FAIRFIELD, NJ - Scores of firefighters and other first responders responded to what has been described as an “explosive” fire at the Pio Costa complex at 1275 Bloomfield Ave. in Fairfield over the weekend. No injuries were reported.
The conflagration was first reported at 11:45 p.m. on All Halloweds Eve, a/k/a Halloween, on Oct. 31, at the sprawling industrial and office facility, which includes several separate buildings.
The Fairfield Fire Department was initially joined by the West Essex First Aid Squad and then by the fire departments from a plethora of municipalities including those from the Caldwell, West Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Lincoln Park, Little Falls, North Caldwell, Roseland, Verona and Pine Brook, as well as by the Roseland First Aid Squad.
In addition, members of the Nutley, Totowa and Wayne Fire Departments provided coverage at Fairfield's firehouses.
The fire, in Building 3 at Pio Costa, sent flames soaring close to fifty feet into the night sky and was partially fueled by motor oil and other flammable materials stored at an auto parts warehouse that was consumed by the flames, as several small explosions were heard and seen during the night.
“Fire crews were met with heavy fire conditions on arrival,” said Fairfield Assistant Chief Timothy Connolly, adding, “an aggressive initial attack proved to be what stopped this blaze from spreading any further.
The main body of fire was located in Building 3, units 53 and 52, which are now deemed a total loss.
Firefighters were able to enter the adjacent businesses on each side and hold it back to prevent the spread of flames.
At one point, around 1 a.m., the intensity of the conflagration was so great that additional water pressure was required by those battling the fire and, in response, members of the Essex Fells Fire Department set up what is known as a hard suction draft from the neighboring Passaic River to provide more water.
The incident was declared under control at about 4:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 1, although a small flare-up was noted about two hours later.
The smell of burnt materials wafted through the air and could be noticed as far away as the intersection of Route 46 and Plymouth Ave. on Sunday afternoon, as utility and construction crews worked to stabilize the scene, which included two totally burned vehicles parked in front of the auto parts facility.
“It's complete devastation and just completely devastating to the people involved,” summed Billy Mahon of West Caldwell, a Pio Costa employee who was working to board up some of the units on Sunday afternoon, adding, “fire is never good.”
All damage photos taken by W. L. Bill Allen, Jr.
Video provided by Fairfield FD via their Facebook page and stills of fire created from the video.