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‘The town is in an uproar.’ Braintree residents say they weren’t notified about chemical fire by emergency call system.

A fire broke out at Clean Harbors facility in Braintree Thursday night.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Residents living near a waste disposal facility in Braintree where a fire broke out Thursday night are asking town officials why they weren’t immediately notified by phone about the emergency.

Several trailers parked at the Clean Harbors facility at 1 Hill Ave. caught fire just before 10 p.m., according to Jake Wark, a spokesman for the state Department of Fire Services. Braintree officials took to Facebook to urge residents in the area to stay inside and keep their windows closed, but the warning was not communicated through the town’s emergency call system, residents say.

“The town is in an uproar,” said Jean O’Brien Boback, who lives 2 miles away from Clean Harbors and wondered why she and other residents in her neighborhood weren’t alerted by a reverse 911 robocall. She said she received a similar notification recently telling her that trash pickup would be delayed due to Presidents’ Day.


“What kind of emergency would it have to be to use reverse 911?” she said Friday in a phone interview.

She saw posts about the fire on the town’s Facebook page, she said, but not everyone in her neighborhood is on social media.

“It’s unacceptable,” she said.

While firefighters battled the two-alarm fire Thursday, a state hazmat team responded to monitor air quality for potential hazards, according to Wark.

“Due to an active fire at the Clean Harbors site, located at 1 Hill Ave., we are asking residents in the area to stay in their homes and keep the windows closed,” town officials wrote on Facebook. “The Braintree Fire Department, Hazmat Teams, and other public safety agencies are on scene and actively addressing the situation.”

By 1 a.m. Friday, the fire had been extinguished. No injuries were reported, officials said.

Wark said the cause and origin of the fire are under investigation but it does not appear to be suspicious.


Clean Harbors released a statement Friday saying that the fire was limited to several trailers parked at the facility, which contained paints, solvents, and other waste materials.

“Preliminary indications are that the materials in one of the trailers self-reacted,” the company said in the statement. “The trailers contained a mixture of paints, epoxy, oil filters, solvents, and similar waste materials. None of the buildings on the property were impacted.”

Officials from Clean Harbors, an environmental and industrial service provider and hazardous waste disposal company, said water used in the fire response was contained on site and will be removed over the weekend.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the company deployed containment equipment in the adjacent waterway although there is no indication of water contamination at this time,” Clean Harbors said in the statement. “We will continue working closely with the mayor’s office and state authorities as we complete our investigation.”

Ed Coletta, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said the area is being monitored.

Clean Harbors facility storm drains will be inspected, he said, along with the Fore River for any signs of impact as it abuts the facility.

Braintree Mayor Charles Kokoros released a statement Friday saying that residents had been asked to stay in their homes out of “an abundance of caution” and once the fire was under control, those precautions “were no longer required.”

“Clean Harbors, along with the DFS State HazMat Team and Coast Guard, conducted air monitoring at the facility and in the surrounding neighborhoods during the incident and again this morning and have confirmed that the air quality was, and remains, within normal parameters,” the mayor’s statement said. “An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.”


In a posting to the town’s Facebook page, one person referenced the recent train derailment in Ohio, where a toxic chemical spill forced the evacuation of residents and fears still linger about long-term health risks.

“Our very own little East Palestine. Great,” read the post.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at Follow her @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22.