Chemical fire outside Pittsburgh injures at least 4

Pittsburgh firefighters are battling an industrial fire at a chemical plant in Leetsdale, Pennsylvania. About 75 nearby homes have been evacuated due to inhalation risks.

Three workers and one firefighter have been injured by the blaze, local media report. The five-alarm fire broke out at the Weatherford Engineered Chemistry, an oil and gas company located on Leetsdale Industrial Drive.

Local officials say that two of the chemicals involved in the fire, ammonium persulfate and sodium chlorite, are inhalation hazards. As a precaution, all residents from Washington Road in Leetsdale have been evacuated to the Quaker Valley High School gum, according to KDKA.

Ambridge, Aliquippa and Hopewell Elementary Schools are keeping the students inside due to the heavy smoke, which even registered on the weather radars.

Leetsdale is a community of 1,200 on the north bank of the Ohio River, just northwest of Pittsburgh and due north of the city’s international airport.

The smoke cloud is currently headed up the river towards Ambridge and Aliquippa. If the wind changes direction, however, the smoke could interfere with airport operations.

One worker was hospitalized with chemical burns, while two others complained of chest pains, local officials told reporters an afternoon briefing. The injured firefighter also had chest pains.

Fire suppression operations are still ongoing, the authorities said. One building in the complex has been described as a “total loss,” while the other is heavily damaged. There are 43 businesses in the industrial complex affected by the fire.

While the cause of the blaze is still unknown, a fire alarm went off at 10:11 a.m., and a few minutes later one of the workers called in about an “explosion.”

The authorities are monitoring the Ohio River for any pollution from the fire.