CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico -- A maquiladora caught fire in southern Juarez Saturday afternoon, sending a plume of thick smoke into the sky that could be seen for miles and leading to the evacuation of hundreds of factory workers and nearby residents amid an hours-long firefight by crews to get the blaze knocked down.
The Mexican news outlet El Diario reported an explosion was heard about 1 p.m. and moments later large flames could be seen spreading in a warehouse of the BRP maquiladora, located on Santiago Troncoso Avenue and Independencia Boulevard.
The factory makes all-terrain vehicles and the company indicated much of the damage came from ATVs that were engulfed in flames and burned in the blaze. No damage estimate was immediately available, but at least one report suggested it totaled into the millions of dollars.
Officials told El Diario that fortunately there were no injuries reported and all 1,500 workers inside the plant when the fire broke out were safely evacuated.
Smoke from the fire was so intense it actually created clouds that were visible on radar and satellite, according to the National Weather Service office in El Paso. The smoke from Juarez could also be seen by many in east El Paso, prompting calls to the El Paso Fire Department which assured residents there were no active fires burning locally.
Juarez police cordoned off the area around the burning facility as an estimated 200 firefighters worked for four hours before finally getting the blaze under control. Due to the fire's intensity, authorities evacuated residents from their homes in the Jardines de San Francisco subdivision, which is located adjacent to the plant, until the blaze was contained.
Science Saturday: Sometimes smoke can be so intense it can actually create clouds of its own. Check out these pyrocumulus clouds developing off a fire east of Juarez. This smoke is also visible on radar and satellite! #nmwx #txwx pic.twitter.com/CCX0Dy25zN— NWS El Paso (@NWSElPaso) July 17, 2021
Reports of smoke in the East are actually a warehouse fire in Ciudad Juarez.— El Paso Fire Department (@EPTXFire) July 17, 2021
No active fires in El Paso. pic.twitter.com/1KtdU1sieQ