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Families living near the Qualco, Inc. chemical warehouse in Passaic, New Jersey were forced to evacuate their homes overnight Friday into Saturday due to a massive chemical fire at the site.

Route 21 South was shut down due to the fire, according to the New Jersey Department of Transportation.


Qualco, Inc. produces chemicals for swimming pools, including chorine pellets which were being stored in the main structure at the plant. The warehouse where the fire started collapsed at around 10:40 pm.

Billows of potentially dangerous smoke rose into the sky from the warehouse at 225 Passaic Avenue as personnel raced to fight the blaze just after 9 pm but by 11 pm, it had become an 11-alarm fire and spread to multiple nearby buildings, according to a report by the New York Post.

Some 200 firefighters from Passaic, Essex and Bergen Counties all responded to the alarm. “We urge everyone in Passaic to stay safe,” Governor Phil Murphy said in a tweet. “If you live nearby, keep your windows closed.”

Some of the chlorine pellets were being stored in the building that was ablaze, but the majority of the plant was not affected, according to a Facebook post by mayor Hector Carolos Lora, who went to the site.

One firefighter was hospitalized after being hit in the head by falling debris, according to local fire officials.

City residents were asked to avoid the area and keep their windows closed to ensure they would not breathe chemical fumes. New York City residents were likewise warned that they too might see the smoke and smell chemical fumes from the fire.

The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.