MAPLEWOOD, NJ - There was a major fire early Saturday morning, Feb. 4, at the AvalonBay apartment complex located at 200 Boyden Ave. in Maplewood. The fire started at about 1:30 a.m., and was under control by about 6 a.m., according to Maplewood Mayor Vic De Luca. There was extensive mutual aid at the scene of the fire.
The fire resulted in the full collapse of the left side of one of the AvalonBay apartment buildings, which fell on to the NJ Transit parking garage, according to the Breaking News Network (BNN).
The AvalonBay apartment complex consists of three buildings - one building where construction has been completed, and two buildings which are still under construction.
Maplewood Mayor Vic De Luca and Maplewood Fire Chief Michael Dingelstedt held a press conference at 8 a.m. at the fire station on Boyden Ave. De Lua stated that the cause of the fire is unknown at this time.
The fire destroyed the unfinished portion of the AvalonBay apartment complex. The front building, where construction was completed, appears to have survived the fire, but town officials stated that the building will need to be inspected to confirm it's structurally sound.
Dingelstedt stated that when the first unit from the fire department arrived on the scene at about 1:30 a.m., the building was "heavily engulfed," and he issued a third alarm, which requests three-times the usual amount of mutual aid.
It became a six-alarm fire, and overnight there were about 130 firefighters on the scene, with fire companies from South Orange, Millburn, Montclair, Bloomfield, Union, Jersey City, West Orange, East Orange, Livingston, Fairfield, Nutley, and Belleville providing 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 which destroyed 240 of the 408 units, and displaced over 1,000 people - 500 who were living in the apartments and another 500 from nearby homes which were affected by the fire.
AvalonBay issued a release at about 1 p.m. on Saturday about the fire which stated, "early this morning, the on-site fire-watch personnel discovered the fire and called local responders. The fire involved a portion of the community under construction. We are working closely with local authorities to determine the cause of the fire, as well as the potential impacts on the development."
The release also stated that AvalonBay is "working with authorities to investigate" the fire and expressed their thanks to local emergency responders for extinguishing the fire, and AvalonBay's gratitude that there were "no reports of serious injury."
The fire was under control by around 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 Ave. has been providing 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 went 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.
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 started at $1,785 for a studio, $1,880 for a one-bedroom, and $2,175 for a two-bedroom, according to the Avalon website. The apartment complex is still under construction and unoccupied, and was scheduled to open in March, according to a release from AvalonBay.
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.