A massive fire at a chemicals packaging plant in Moerdijk, south of Rotterdam was brought under control shortly after midnight after being sprayed with a thick layer of foam to douse the flames.
Fire broke out in the Chemie-Pack plant around 14.30 hours on Wednesday, sending enormous clouds of smoke into the air and leading officials to declare a phase four alarm. Locals were told to stay indoors and keep doors and windows closed.
The national safety council has begun an investigation into the fire under the leadership of Pieter van Vollenhoven. The probe will focus on how the fire started and the manner in which the blaze was tackled.
At its height, some 200 fire officers were involved in fighting the blaze, including experts from the air force. The A16 and A17 roads were closed for a time because of the smoke and train travel halted. The fire also spread to the nearby Wärtsilä engine factory.
It is still unclear what chemicals were being stored at the site and how dangerous to health they are.
Moerdijk mayor Wim Denie told a news conference on Wednesday night that no substances which are dangerous to health had been released into the atmosphere. The fire brigade were constantly monitoring emissions, he said.
However, an Amsterdam University toxicologist told RTL news he was surprised so little information had been made available about the nature of the chemicals as late as six hours after the fire had started. Dangerous substances are released during an ordinary barbecue, he said.
Eyewitnesses told the Volkskrant there was a ‘smell of burning plastic’.
Fire officials are expected to remain at the site, dousing any remaining flames, for most of the day.
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