Residents urged to keep windows closed after fire at New Jersey chemical warehouse

Authorities contained a massive fire Saturday morning at a chemical warehouse in Passaic, New Jersey. Firefighters remained at the scene of the blaze early in the day and have now fully brought the blaze under control, CBS New York reporting.

The mayor asked residents of Passaic to keep their windows closed as a precaution, which the governor echoed.

“If you live nearby, keep your windows rolled up,” New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said. tweeted Friday night.

The fire started Friday night inside a warehouse called QualCo Incorporated. A huge ball of fire lit up the night sky over Passaic, just west of Manhattan, followed by a cloud of toxic smoke, according to CBS New York.

The burning chemicals inside could be seen – and smelled – for miles along Highway 21.

“I was really scared, you know, it was like madness. I’ve never seen anything like it, you know?” witness Mark Ervin told CBS New York.

Security guard Justin Johnson was the only one working inside at the time. He says he was checking the building’s water pressure when he noticed smoke.

Firefighters battled for hours to contain the flames, but the blaze continued to rage out of control, igniting a nearby chlorine plant and sparking huge air quality concerns. The chlorine plant fire is now under control and Department of Environmental Protection officials said the air was safe, CBS New York reports.

Passaic Mayor Hector Lora took to Facebook to warn nearby residents.

“I ask residents to keep your windows closed as the fire department as our emergency responders assess the extent of this fire,” Lora said.

As some neighbors came out to watch the wall of flames, others fled the other direction.

“We came to check to see how bad the situation was because we just live there. And we don’t know if the fumes are going to come in and if it’s going to have any long term side effects for like lungs or what So it’s really scary,” said Passaic resident Sophia Liu.

Mayor Lora spoke with Fire Chief Patrick Trentacost on Facebook just after noon Saturday. Trentacost said most of the building in which the fire originated had collapsed. It was used for the storage of plastics and pallets. Trentacost said part of the building contained chlorine, but said it was “under control”.

Several roads in the area were closed due to the fire, including nearby Route 21.

The fire chief said a firefighter was taken to a local hospital after being hit in the face by debris.

New York City had warned residents Friday night that they might see or smell smoke from the fire.

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