Electric fire deemed cause of blaze at NJ plant

A fire broke out at a chemical plant in Bayonne, New Jersey on May 25, 2011. (Jeff Pegues)

May 26, 2011 3:35:17 AM PDT
A public safety official says a fire that broke out at a large chemical processing facility in northern New Jersey doesn't appear to be chemical in nature and says residents aren't in any danger.

The fire started at the plant at around 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

The flames tore through part of the facility and the thick black smoke billowed into the sky.

You could see it from miles away.

"It doesn't smell too good, I'll tell you that. I don't think it's good, don't know what's burning, don't know what it is," said Bill McGovern, a Bayonne resident.

But that wasn't the only thing that concerned nearby residents.

One man, a marine, says he heard loud explosions as well.

"It sounded like a bunch of dynamite going off," said Pedro Martinez, a Bayonne resident.

A chemical plant, The International Matex Tank Terminal had caught on fire.

It's a 500 acre facility with heavy security.

Even as the fire burned, police kept Eyewitness News' cameras back.

"It's a chemical fire. We don't know if there are hazardous materials or anything that can get into your lungs, so at this point we need you guys to back away," the security official said.

Authorities now say the fire does not pose a threat to the public.

They say the chemicals are not the source of the fire and insist that something electrical may have sparked the flames.

Still, it was terrifying for some of the residents who didn't know what to expect as they watched the plant burn in the distance.

"Coming home to the black sky was scary," said Adeline Martinez, a Bayonne resident.

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