The authorities in Omaha urged some residents to evacuate on Monday after a three-alarm fire at a chemical plant sent clouds of black smoke billowing over the city, officials said.
The fire was detected just before 7 p.m. at a factory owned by Nox-Crete, said Scott Fitzpatrick, a battalion chief with the Omaha Fire Department. The company is based in Omaha, a city of nearly half a million people in Nebraska, and manufactures chemical products.
Fire crews that entered the factory on Monday evening left after discovering propane and other chemicals inside, and the front side of the building later collapsed, Chief Fitzpatrick said.
There were no immediate reports of injuries. The authorities, however, urged people who live near the Nox-Crete plant, which is south of downtown, to evacuate on Monday night because smoke from the fire was threatening to blow over a residential area, Chief Fitzpatrick said.
“We’re unsure what exactly is in there, but we do know there are some chemicals that are burning,” he said. The intensity of the fire had waned slightly as of late Monday night, he added, but about 50 firefighters were still battling it and would probably stay at the site for most of the night.
News footage showed black smoke rising from the factory as fire crews sprayed it with water. Journalists at the scene heard explosions, and the Omaha Public Power District said after 10 p.m. that nearly 2,400 downtown customers had lost power as a result of the blaze.
It was not immediately clear how the fire had started. The Omaha Fire Department said late Monday that an investigation was underway.
Nox-Crete could not be reached for comment on Monday night. The company says on its website that it manufactures coatings, adhesives, sealants and other chemical compounds for the construction industry.