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Video Shows Chemical Explosion in Spain Unleashing Orange Cloud of Nitric Acid

The blast and fire occurred 40 miles west of Barcelona, and nearby residents were ordered to remain in their homes while firefighters fought to control the blaze.

by Matt Smith
Feb 12 2015, 5:35pm

Photo by Alba Aribau/Reuters

The good news: The sunset was gorgeous. The bad news: You had to watch it from indoors.

An explosion and fire at a Spanish chemical plant sent an orange cloud of nitric acid soaring into the skies west of Barcelona this week. The blast occurred at the Simar SA plant in the town of Igualada, about 65 km (40 miles) west of Barcelona, authorities told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

The cloud prompted emergency management officials to order residents of Igualada and five surrounding towns to remain indoors while firefighters battled the blaze. Though initially reported as toxic, Spanish officials later described the substance as more of an irritant.

Three workers were hurt in the explosion and six others were admitted to hospitals after complaining of breathing problems, authorities said.

Most restrictions had been lifted by Thursday afternoon, but authorities still urged small children, adults over 70, pregnant women, and people with respiratory conditions to remain inside.

The factory manufactures ammonium nitrate, paraformaldehyde, and methanol, according to government records. Nitric acid is used to make ammonium nitrate, a common fertilizer.

A volcano in Iceland is spewing toxic gas into the atmosphere. Read more here.

Follow Matt Smith on Twitter: @mattsmithatl