There was a fire in the town of Moerdijk today and it seems to have been a big one. So big, in fact, that it was visible from the A16. The photo below isn’t very clear, but the orange blur is the fire as seen from the A16.
The fire at the Chemie-Pack chemical plant in Moerdijk has been brought under control. The police report that the fire has gone out at most of the site, only the office building is still burning. Moerdijk Mayor Wim Denie has announced that the fire brigade will start covering the site in a blanket of foam at 22.30 local time to definitively put out the fire. The mayor has urgently called on all residents of the towns of Moerdijk, Hoeksche Waard, Alblasserwaard en Zwijndrechtsewaard to close all doors and windows and keep pets indoors because the operation can create large quantities of foul-smelling smoke which can cause irritation to the eyes and skin. The A16 motorway near Moerdijk has been closed over a distance of 10 kilometres because the smoke could endanger traffic.
Earlier today, the highest level alarm was declared in the south of the province of South Holland because of a massive fire at a chemical plant which belongs to the Chemie-Pack company. A huge cloud of toxic black smoke drifted north and even reached the town of Dordrecht. Residents in the area were being advised to stay indoors and keep their doors and windows closed.
There have been no reports of any severe injuries thus far. It’s also not known what started the fire, which was being accompanied by explosions and jets of flame. One or more storage tanks at the plant may have exploded. Large quantities of flammable, toxic and corrosive material are stored on the industrial estate where the Chemie-Pack plant is located.
The fire brigade deployed hundreds of fire fighters to battle the blaze and the Shell company firebrigade lent its assistance. The defence ministry sent to two special fire engines with water cannon on their roofs to the disaster area, and the justice ministry activated the Landelijk Operationeel Coördinatiecentrum National Operational Coordination Centre.
The fire also spread to the Wärtsilä plant, a company which produces parts for diesel engines. Two exits of the A17 motorway near Moerdijk were closed and shipping on the nearby Hollandsch Diep and Oude Maas waterways was halted.
The Dutch Safety Board has launched an investigation into the fire in Moerdijk. A spokesperson for the Board says that researchers have already begun collecting data. The Dutch Safety Board will investigate the cause and backgrounds of the fire, as well as the effectiveness of the emergency services.