VALENCIA, Spain – A fire at a chemical plant that belched a thick black cloud of smoke over the eastern port city of Valencia on Wednesday and forced the evacuation of around 3,000 workers was still burning at sunset, emergency services told EFE.
Up to 21 firefighting teams had worked to extinguish the fire during the day and hoped to have it contained sometime during the night, Jose Miguel Basset, the head of the local fire services said.
“The fire cannot advance further than it had done already,” Basset said.
Joaquin Ballester, the manager of an association of employers of the Fuente del Jarro industrial estate where the fire broke out, said some 450 companies employed around 9,000 workers in premises there.
“Emergency services told us early today that the smoke rising from the fire was toxic,” Ballester said.
The fire broke out at around 0830 GMT and created a pall of smoke that could be seen for miles.
Ballester said several explosions had been heard and 150 companies that had units near the fire had been affected by the conflagration.
He calculated some 3,000 workers had either been forced to evacuate or left the area due to concerns over their own safety.
Ballester said six industrial warehouse units could have been damaged so far by the outbreak. Basset upped that number to seven units.
The fire had also caused the industrial estate’s electricity supply to be cut, and, for security reasons, repair crews had not been allowed to go to examine the scene, Ballester said.
Roadblocks had been set up around the estate and traffic had been brought to a halt, Ballester told EFE.
Ballester said that although he expected the fire would be fully contained before daybreak Thursday, there was a possibility it could still rekindle in coming days.
He added that a nearby firefighting unit would be on standby to deal swiftly with any new outbreak.