MAPLEWOOD, NJ - A major fire erupted early Saturday morning at the Avalon apartment complex located at 200 Boyden Ave. in Maplewood. Overnight, approximately 130 firefighters responded to the scene, with fire companies from Livingston, West Orange, Fairfield, South Orange, Millburn, Montclair, Bloomfield, Union, Jersey City, East Orange, Nutley and Belleville providing mutual aid.
The fire started at approximately 1:30 a.m. and was under control by about 6 a.m., according to Maplewood Mayor Vic De Luca. The fire resulted in the full collapse of the left side of one of the Avalon apartment buildings, which fell on to the NJ Transit parking garage, according to the Breaking News Network (BNN).
The Avalon apartment complex consists of three buildings: one building where construction has been completed, and two buildings which are still under construction.
Mayor De Luca and Maplewood Fire Chief Michael Dingelstedt held a press conference at 8 a.m. at the fire station on Boyden Avenue, where De Luca stated that the cause of the fire is unknown at this time.
The fire destroyed the unfinished portion of the Avalon apartment complex. The front building, where construction was completed, appears to have survived the fire, but township officials stated that the building will need to be inspected to confirm that it is structurally sound.
Dingelstedt stated that when the first unit from the fire department arrived on the scene, the building was "heavily engulfed" and he issued a third alarm, which requests three-times the usual amount of mutual aid.
At the press conference, De Luca and Dingelstedt both commented that the Maplewood Avalon construction was built using a higher fire-safety standard, including more sprinklers than the Avalon project in Edgewater, which had a major fire January of 2015 that destroyed 240 of the 408 units and displaced more than 1000 people—500 of whom were living in the apartments and another 500 from nearby homes that were affected by the fire.
The fire was under control by approximately 6 a.m., but the fire department was still continuing to pump water as of 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. At 10 a.m., fire companies were still "hitting hot spots and hidden pockets of fire under collapsed sections," with one tower ladder in operation, according to BNN.
The nearby Wawa on Springfield Avenue provided free coffee to all firefighters at the scene of the fire.
There was one injury reported: a firefighter from Maplewood slipped and fell on ice and was transported to the hospital for evaluation.
Essex County investigators were at the scene of the fire early Saturday morning, and the cause of the fire is under investigation.
Avalon had no statement as of 10 a.m. on Saturday, with a company spokesperson stating that they have no comment until they are granted accesses to the site by fire and Essex County officials and are able to examine and assess the situation.
The Avalon apartments in Maplewood are not yet occupied. An Open House was scheduled for Feb. 18 and Feb. 19, according to the Avalon website. Apartments are priced starting at $1,785 for a studio, $1,880 for a one-bedroom, and $2,175 for a two-bedroom, according to the Avalon website.
Tenants were scheduled to begin moving into the complex in about five weeks, and De Luca suggested that anyone who was planning to occupy an apartment in the complex should contact Avalon directly for an update.
According to the Maplewood Township website, the development had 235 market-rate rental units with an attached multi-level parking garage for residents.