Overnight explosion at asphalt plant rocks Gloucester City neighborhood

Tim Jimenez
June 30, 2020 - 7:22 am
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UPDATED: 2:35 p.m.

GLOUCESTER CITY, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Investigators are looking into the cause of an explosion and fire at an asphalt tank in South Jersey. Residents who live near the Blueknight Energy Partners terminal, on Water Street in Gloucester City, heard a boom around 1 a.m. 

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Crews from at least 8 South Jersey fire companies rushed to the scene.

“We found a large tank filled with asphalt that had been compromised. There was an explosion, and it was on fire. We secured water supplies. We evacuated the general area," Gloucester City Battalion Chief Desmond Chiodi said.

Firefighters went around to knock on doors and to tell neighbors to get out of their homes.

“I was sleeping on the couch and my son was playing Xbox, and it was just a loud noise. And you felt the house shook, and we looked out the window and saw the smoke and fire,” said Donald Spatola, who lives nearby.

"I got my family and got out of there. Grabbed my kids, my sister and my dogs and we left."

The fire was confined to a single tank. It took about four hours to bring it under control. When the smoke cleared, the container was visibly charred, and panes were torn or warped from the intense heat.

No firefighters or civilians were hurt, according to fire officials.

Residents were allowed back in their homes after officials said it was safe and fumes were not a concern.

Blueknight Energy Partners added in a statement: "There was no product released as the tank retained its integrity. We are currently cleaning up the area. There does appear to be some damage to the roof of the tank, per a drone inspection. We are working with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Coast Guard. The cause of the incident is under investigation."