Dutch firefighters battle chemical blaze

5th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Firefighters on Wednesday battled a blaze at a chemical treatment company in the southwest Netherlands as city officials warned residents to stay indoors or risk inhaling poisonous gas.

"A big fire has broken out on an industrial site around 2:30 pm (1330 GMT)," the municipality of Moerdijk said on its website, warning residents to "keep all windows and doors shut."

The municipality said the fire, with flames up to 40 metres- (130 feet-) high according to local news reports, was at a company called Chemie-Pack that treats and packages chemical products.

"All 50 employees of the company have been brought to safety," it said. "There are no injuries, according to the police."

Dutch news agency ANP said a thick plume of smoke has reached the city of Dordrecht, about 15 kilometres (nine miles) northwest of Moerdijk.

It also quoted the police as saying the chemicals were "poisonous, corrosive and flammable."

Justice ministry spokesman Jean Fransman told AFP that an alert had been issued for the southern part of the Zuid-Holland province that includes The Hague and Rotterdam, "meaning that police and firefighters can be deployed to Moerdijk across provincial borders".

The defence force has also sent two crashtenders, specialised fire engines designed for use with plane crashes, to the scene, he said.

© 2011 AFP

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