Passaic fire: Firefighters keep massive fire from reaching chlorine at chemical plant in New Jersey

PASSAIC, New Jersey (WABC) – Firefighters managed to ward off flames from a massive blaze at an industrial complex in Passaic, New Jersey, away from the main chemical plant.

The 11-alarm fire broke out around 8:15 p.m. Friday at the Majestic Industries warehouse on Passaic Street.

Saturday morning, after working through the night in freezing temperatures, firefighters were still working to put out the flames.

As of 7 a.m., the fire was not completely under control, but was contained, Mayor Hector Lora said.

The fire started in the warehouse of Majestic Industries, where the company makes gaming and hospitality furniture for casinos and bingo halls and spread to an adjacent building used by Qualco Inc. to produce chlorine tablets used to treat swimming pools and spas.

No one was in the complex when the fire broke out except for the security guard who called the authorities.

“It was a blessing that I got out of there. I treat this building like it’s my own. I work there, it grows inside you. It kinda hurts,” Justin Johnson said.

Together the two buildings spanned more than 200,000 square feet and Lora said the fire had the potential to be the worst the city had ever seen.

Officials were concerned about possible air quality issues, however, quick work by firefighters prevented the flames from reaching the area where more than 100,000 pounds of chlorine tablets are stored.

There were further concerns about possible evacuations from a nearby residential area, but this too was averted.

Governor Phil Murphy has made available resources from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection agency to assess air quality.

“They have made an assessment in terms of air quality, as you can see behind us, they are continuing to fight this fire. But as a direct result of the outstanding response from firefighters and rescue workers, they have been able to contain the fire and it didn’t reach the main chemical plant,” Lora said in a video posted on Facebook.

Air quality was deemed safe and no mandatory evacuations were ordered.

More than a dozen firefighters were injured in trips and falls, including sprained ankles, bumps and bruises, as the millions of gallons of water used to douse the blazes froze almost immediately to temperatures below freezing point.

A firefighter was hit in the face by debris and taken to hospital, but has since been released.

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