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Massive fire at French chemical plant closes schools in and around medieval city


A massive fire at a French chemical plant in a medieval city caused chaos Thursday, leading to closed schools and residents being kept indoors.

The fire broke out at 2:40 a.m. at the Lubrizol plant in Rouen, Normandy, CNN reports. According to AP News, the medieval city’s plant is one of Europe’s “highest-risk industrial sites."

At the time of publication, no injuries had been reported.

Schools in 11 nearby towns (13 towns, according to CNN) were closed by authorities who also requested anyone within a 550-yard perimeter remain inside. Nearby nursing homes also kept their residents indoors.

The Seine-Maritime region’s administration warned against nonessential travel.

“There is no element that could lead us to believe that the smoke is dangerous,” French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told RTL radio.

Despite Castaner’s claim, authorities are conducting air quality tests. The Nord region’s administration said the air showed “no heightened toxicity” that was immediately detectable.

The plant — which makes additives used in paint and lubricants — is part of the Seveso system, requiring similarly high-risk facilities to take extra security measures given the dangerous nature of the substances they handle.

With News Wire Services