Huge fire in French chemical plant tackled by firefighters

Huge fire in French chemical plant tackled by firefighters
Copyright 2019 CNN
A huge fire in French chemical plant was fought by more than 100 firefighters.

Around 130 firefighters are tackling a large fire which broke out in the early hours of Thursday at a French chemical factory.

Schools and nurseries in 13 nearby towns have been closed, according to local authorities, and police have urged residents living near the Lubrizol plant in Rouen, Normandy to limit their movements.

As thick, black clouds of smoke billowed from the factory, residents of the city complained of an oily residue being found on the streets and cars.

There are no reported victims, according to Reuters, and regional police said initial tests gave no indication of serious toxins in the air.

The fire started at 02:40 a.m. local time, police said and, with a cloud of smoke moving northeast, a strong smell might be present in the regions impacted.

Strong smell, thick cloud of smoke

“I heard an explosion last night but I didn’t panic because I thought it could be a storm. But when I woke up at 6.30am, I heard the news and stayed confined ever since,” Paul Brahic, who lives in Rouen, told CNN.

“The fire is still raging and the thick cloud of smoke is still present. A strong smell could be felt outside which causes nausea and pulmonary discomfort,” he added.

Rouen resident Amanda Masterson told CNN that she is stuck in her home but safe.

“I realized there was a fire when my husband called and told me he heard about it on the radio, and that the city was asking us to avoid leaving the house if it was not necessary,” she said.

“I didn’t hear anything but when I looked out the window upstairs I saw the huge cloud of dark black smoke. Quite shocking, really. I am concerned about the effects on my health and the environment.”

Locals had been sharing videos of oil residue on the streets, on their cars and on plants in their gardens, Masterson said, while farmers were worried for their animals.

CNN’s Hilary McGann and Saskya Vandoorne contributed to this report.