A fire broke out at the Agan Chemicals facility in Ashdod, Wednesday evening.
Emergency services have been called to the scene and are trying to control the roaring flames. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, but since the facility houses various chemicals, a hazardous material leak was feared.
Four people were reportedly hurt in the fire: One suffered serious injuries, another moderate wounds and two more were lightly hurt. The injured were rushed to the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot
The Environmental Protection Ministry dispatched a hazardous materials team to the area.
The fire (Photo: Avi Roccah)
The police initially instructed residents in Ashdod's northern area, as well as in the communities of Nir Galim, Bnei Darom, Neveh Herzog and the surrounding area, to stay indoors, as a precautionary measure. That order was lifted once the situation was under control.
Massive firefighting forces were called to the area. The fire also causes a series of small explosions, which were heard in the Ashdod area and lead to the initial assumption that the area might have been hit by a rocket; however the supposition was quickly proved untrue.
Shimshon Sharabani, head of the Ashdod Environment Association, told Ynet that once the Israeli offensive in Gaza was launched, the group appealed to Agan and asked it dilute the chemicals stored in the facility, as a precautionary measure against a possible rocket attack.
"I have no doubt this decision saved many lives," he said. "Fire has always been our primary concern. With the amounts of chemicals they have there we can only hope there won't be severe ramifications.
The Makhteshim Agan Group offered the following comment: "A fire broke out in the labels warehouse of Agan's Ashdod facility on Wednesday evening. Agan teams, along with firefighters have located and extinguished the flames, and have stopped the fire from spreading.
"Two employees have sought medical attention due to smoke inhalation."