No Injuries Reported, No Danger to the Community
NEWBURYPORT — Fire Chief Christopher LeClaire and City Marshal Mark Murray report that the Newburyport Fire and Police Departments responded early Thursday to an incident at a chemical plant in the city’s industrial park.
Firefighters responded to PCI Synthesis/Seqens, located at 9 Opportunity Way, at approximately 4:35 a.m. for an active fire alarm at the plant. Upon arrival, firefighters encountered a heavy smoke condition in a room known for chemical production work, and firefighters evacuated the building. Firefighters soon heard at least six explosions occur from that area of the building. One of the explosions caused an approximate 5-by-8 foot hole in the building’s roof.
The factory operates 24 hours a day. A number of employees, believed to be under 10, were working at the time of the initial explosions, but evacuated when the fire alarms sounded.
As the facility is known to store and use chemicals, firefighters declared a Tier 2 Hazardous Materials Incident, which activates a regional team of specially-trained professionals and specialized equipment to come to Newburyport.
Hazmat teams initially made entrance into the plant with a robot and conducted numerous tests. Upon conferring with business managers, it was determined that there was no danger to the surrounding community.
No injuries were reported. One employee at the plant was evaluated by emergency medical services but declined transportation to a hospital.
The three businesses in immediate proximity to the plant, including a truck company on the lot, were not allowed to open Thursday morning, but employees were allowed to back into the neighboring businesses by mid-day. No homes were evacuated.
Newburyport Public Schools opened on a two-hour delay due to the weather.
Mutual aid was provided by the Salisbury, Hampton N.H., Haverhill and Amesbury Fire Departments, and the Department of Fire Services. The Newburyport Police Department was on scene and also provided traffic enforcement in the area. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also responded to the scene.
The Seabrook, N.H. and West Newbury Fire Departments provided station coverage for Newburyport.
The building was turned back over to the owner at approximately 1:30 p.m.
The cause of the incident is under investigation.
Firefighters and police officers at the scene wish to thank McDonald’s of Amesbury and Carissa Haley, owner of the Amesbury, Newburyport and Andover McDonald’s restaurants for donating breakfast and coffee to the first responders on Thursday morning.