Massive Passaic NJ chemical fire finally ‘contained’: Mayor

A massive chemical fire in Passaic, NJ, that roared overnight and initially forced the evacuations of some nearby residents was finally brought under control after nearly 12 hours, authorities said.

The 11-alarm blaze, which erupted around 8:30 p.m. Friday, is “contained,” Passaic Mayor Hector Carlos Lora told NJ Advance Media just before 8 a.m. Saturday.

The fire at a warehouse at 225 Passaic Ave. grew quickly and spread to multiple nearby buildings. Falling debris hospitalized at least one firefighter, who was hit in the head, fire officials said.

The 11-alarm started at a warehouse that belongs to a swimming pool chemical company.
Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh via Storyful

The building collapsed around 10:40 p.m., according to reports. The address belongs to Qualco, Inc. a swimming pools chemical company, according to its website.

Around 3:30 a.m. Saturday, Lora declared in a video on the mayor’s Facebook page that state environmental officials had informed him the air quality was at “acceptable levels” and there was no need to evacuate.

Officials told NJ Advance media that the hundreds of firefighters from numerous area fire companies prevented the roaring flames from reaching the main chemical plant at Qualco, thus avoiding contact with chlorine pellets used for pools.

One firefighter was hospitalized after getting injured by falling debris while responding to the fire.
One firefighter was hospitalized after getting injured by falling debris while responding to the fire.
@jefebeatz via Storyful

“Had it hit the main plant, it would have been, to say the least, a major incident,” Lora told NJ Advance media. “There would have been evacuations of many, many individuals.”