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Firefighter injured in blaze at chemical plant in Passaic, N.J.

The fire broke out at the Qualco chemical plant and was not under control early Saturday, officials said.
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Firefighters continued to work early Saturday to contain a massive blaze at a pool chemical plant in New Jersey.

The fire erupted at a Qualco plant in Passaic, New Jersey, on Friday evening and the roof and walls of the main structure went up in flames, Passaic Fire Chief Patrick Trentacost Sr. said in Facebook Live videos with Mayor Hector Carlos Lora.

Part of the building where the fire originated later collapsed in on itself, he said.

“Certainly we’re far from having control of the fire,” Trentacost said early Saturday.

The building was mostly vacant at the time and was being used to store plastics and pallets, as well as some chlorine, he said. A security guard who was onsite was accounted for.

One firefighter was hospitalized after he was hit in the face with debris. Slips and falls were also reported as the water quickly froze on the ground, Trentacost said.

The 100,000 square foot facility includes chlorine tablets, some of which have burned, Lora said during a Facebook Live.

Lora said the fire had not made it to the main chlorine plant.

“If the fire were to hit the main chemical plant, it would obviously create issues beyond what our immediate resources would be able to resolve," Lora said.

Lora encouraged residents to stay indoors and close their windows as a precaution. Gov. Phil Murphy echoed that advice and said he was praying for first responders.

Shawn LaTourette, New Jersey's Commissioner of Environmental Protection, said air quality officials were monitoring the situation.

NBC New York forecaster Bill Karens said the wind was carrying smoke to Newark and the New York City neighborhood of Staten Island.

The blaze near the Passaic River sent smoke into the skyline north of New York City as flames rose above the building. It progressed so fast that it went from 10 to 11 alarms during one of Lora’s video.

Officials said they were also fighting the elements.

It was 20 degrees after midnight at nearby Teterboro Airport, according to the National Weather Service.

A storm was bringing “arctic air” into the New York area overnight, federal forecasters said.