Rain Sparks Chemical Fire in NJ

Tuesday, June 7, 2016 @ 04:06 PM gHale


A chemical fire caused by rain created a “complicated” cleanup at a packaging plant Monday.

Firefighters in Passaic, NJ, responded to Bartlo Packaging Inc. early Monday morning to a small fire that perked up when rain from Sunday’s storm reacted with drums of an oxidizer chemical workers were in the process of cleaning up.

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Battalion Chief Chris Szczygiel said barrels of the chemical workers use to clean decks, ended up delivered to Bartlo Packaging last week. Last Friday an employee found two of the barrels had exploded, spraying white powder and prompting a HazMat cleanup.

Since then, various departments have been cleaning the site – which requires a process where the barrels end up punctured and slowly cooled off and diluted without causing an unwieldy chemical reaction.

The barrels workers took outside for the cleanup ended up placed on pallets and covered with a tarp and Sunday’s rain storm caused the chemical to react and start a small fire.

Szczygiel said he believes the barrels and chemical suffered contamination sometime before delivery to Bartlo Packaging.

There were no injuries in the fire on Monday morning and Szczygiel said there is no threat to the public.

“It’s an ongoing process, the barrels are still being cleaned up,” he said. “There is no threat, the area is safe.”