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26 Sep, 2019 09:30

Residents told to stay indoors as INFERNO envelopes chemical plant in Rouen, France (PHOTO/VIDEOS)

A massive blaze at a chemical factory in Rouen, France has prompted officials to close schools and direct nearby residents to stay indoors, amid reports that the fire could have a dangerous impact on the environment.

Around 200 firefighters were called to the scene after the plant, operated by US multinational Lubrizol and owned by billionaire American investor Warren Buffett, caught fire in the early hours of Thursday.

The factory, which produces oil additives, is formally classified as a high-risk area by the European Union, due to the dangerous nature of the chemicals that it makes and stores.

While no casualties have been reported, the blaze caused panic among locals when huge plumes of black smoke drifted toward residential areas. Authorities say there’s no indication that toxic fumes have been released into the air, but a local official who spoke to AFP said the factory fire could pollute the nearby Seine river.


Citing local media, Euronews reported that there was an “acrid smell” around the site of the blaze – another possible sign that the fire could pose a danger to the surrounding area.

Schools were closed in Rouen and residents in the city as well as 11 surrounding municipalities have been warned to stay indoors – reportedly as a precaution.


Footage of the blaze illustrates the scope of the fire, which could be seen from across the city.

In 2013, a leak at the factory released fumes that smelled like rotten eggs. The odor reportedly drifted all the way to Paris. Two years later, more than 2,000 liters of mineral oil from the plant leaked into Rouen’s sewer system.

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