Officials say the massive fire at the Passaic chemical facility has been halted, yet crews remain at the scene
A fire that ripped through a industrial complex in Passaic on Friday night, putting massive flames into the air, and heavy plumes of smoke that could be seen from New York City and even on weather radar, are now under control, according to officials.
Firemen are still on scene poured water into the complex still burning, according to official officials. One concern is keeping existing flames from reaching an area where chlorine is stored.
Firefighters worked in freezing temperatures throughout the night to fight the 11-alarm blaze at the Majestic Industries warehouse and Qualco pool chemical facility on Passaic Street. The weather was so cold, the water they poured onto the buildings sometimes froze in the air.
Environmental officials in Passaic say air quality in the area is at acceptable levels, and nearby residents have not been evacuated, according to Mayor Hector Lora.
Residents may come outside, but should not come to this area, Lora said.
According to officials, a firefighter was taken to the hospital for an eye injury.
Officials said seventeen other firefighters have suffered minor injuries as a result of falling on ice formation under their feet.
Officials said hundreds of firefighters from across the area, including Bergen, Essex, Passaic, and Union counties, have been able to keep the flames away from reaching Qualco's chemical stockpile.
Had it hit the main plant, it would have been, for the most part, a major incident, Lora said. There would have been many evacuations, many individuals.
Firefighters were still on the scene at 9:30 a.m., laying water on the fire to keep it from spreading to the chlorine facility.
Patrick Trentacost, the fire captain at Passaic, claimed that a "significant amount" of chlorine was consumed on the site.
The fire is under control and contained, but it is stubborn, according to Trentacost.
He said its too early to determine the cause of the fire.
Firefighters will keep shooting water into the complex until Saturday night, and then set up a watch, according to the chief.
Trentacost said a fire was not as bad as the inferno on Atlantic Recycling last year, and that it was not as bad as the a fire on Labor Day in 1985, which wiped out one-quarter of the city's industrial base on the Eastside.
Every fire is unique and presents its own set of challenges, said the chief.
Trentacost claims that in this case, its a race to keep the fire from spreading to the chlorine plant together with extreme heat.
When the fire broke out around 8:15 p.m. Friday night, the complex which dates to 1906 was empty.
Majestic Industries' warehouse, one of two buildings on the site, and Qualco's business, according to the mayor.
A large part of the complex has since collapsed, according to the economist.
Both Majestic and Qualco have immediately returned messages Saturday morning, requesting feedback.
On Saturday morning, Passaic Engine 3 was shot dead in a chemical plant fire in Passaic.Dave Hernandez | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The fire is sprayed with water, and the runoff and overspray begins to freeze on Saturday morning.Dave Hernandez | For NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Firefighters have to battle cold temperatures and wind gusts. Water has been freezing under their feet, and enormous icicles are hanging off one side of the building.
Were doing everything we can to help our firefighters in need of treatment and rotate them through, Trentacost said. But fighting the elements has been really tough.
The chief said there were a few minor explosions from propane tanks early on, but that was to be expected, and it was nothing out of the ordinary.
Lora encourages residents to be vigilant in response to harsh weather.
Its times like these that you really appreciate the heroic efforts of our firefighters, said the mayor.
Saturday morning, firefighters continue to battle the blaze in extreme temperatures.Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media
The Environmental Protection Agency of the United States said it's on scene to help monitor the air, along with the Department of Environmental Protection. They have found the results to be within acceptable levels, the Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement.
The federal agency has also announced that it has set up five air monitoring systems to measure for chlorine and other contaminants.
Police have cordoned off a half-mile area around the complex, which is in a densely populated area, a mix of old factories and homes.
Officials had closed parts of Route 21 on Friday night due to the fire. All lanes have now reopened, according to the state Department of Transportation Saturday morning.
A plethora of smoke has drifted across the Passaic River.
Saturday morning, firefighters continue battling the blaze in frigid temperatures.Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media
Fire contractors in the United States are standing by to help.
In the heavily orthodox Jewish Third Ward, a fire broke out on Saturday in a house on Aycrigg Avenue. Many of the residents had no idea what happened.
As close to 100 out-of-town firefighters began unraveling hoses, Moshe Jacobs, 21 shook his head in disbelief.
I was wondering why all these firefighters were there,, Jacobs said.
Residents are finishing early-morning grocery shopping at the C Town near City Hall. A trash hauler collected garbage on a nearly empty Market Street not far from the fire scene.
Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-9th who represents the area in Congress said he assures federal officials that Passaic has everything they need to stay in place to keep the situation mild and protect our neighbors.
We are faced with a huge blaze in Passaic, which has been praying for our neighbors while monitoring the situation closely. It appears the fire is blessedly under control. God bless our fire departments who bravely fought it.
Sunday morning, firefighters from across New Jersey continue to fight the fire.Amanda Brown| For NJ Advance Med
The fire has been fought in New Jersey by firefighters across the country every Saturday morning.Amanda Brown| For NJ Advance Med
Staff from NJ Advance Media have contributed to this report.
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