All of the workers at Atlantic Coast Fibers plant on 7th Street got out OK and no serious injuries were reported in the inferno, which began shortly after 11 p.m. Friday.
A firefighter was hospitalized with an undisclosed injury, and the Passaic County prosecutor’s arson unit responded because of the size and amount of damage caused by the blaze, authorities said.
In an eerie coincidence, the fire broke out two years to the day that a massive blaze destroyed the Marcal Plant in nearby Elmwood Park (SEE: 'Big One' Consumes Marcal Plant, Ignites Nearby Buildings, Power Lines).
At least two explosions was reported at the plant, which covers an entire block and was filled with oil, gasoline and diesel tanks, Mayor Hector Carlos Lora said.
Given the size and coverage of the blaze, firefighters had to use aerial ladders to pour water onto the structure, which quickly collapsed.
“It’s burned all night,” Lora said Saturday morning. “It’s a recycling company so everything inside, you can imagine, is conducive for burning.
"We’re going to be out here fighting this fire non-stop for the next few days.” (Story continues after photo.)
Firefighters from more than two dozen companies continued to rotate in and out of the fire.
Temperatures in the teens, accompanied by wind chills, made the weather “punch-you-in-the-face cold,” while turning the surrounding area into an ice-skating rink, Lora said.
The combined circumstances “created a perfect storm of dangerous situations for our firefighters,” he said.
A few were treated at the scene after falling on the ice, the mayor said. (Story continues after photo.)
Mutual aid responders from departments too numerous to mention all converged on the scene or provided coverage.
In operation under various names for more than 80 years, Atlantic Coast Fibers recycles cardboard, mixed paper, containers and other materials at the plant, which was the site of a much smaller fire among large newspaper bales in May 2015.
ALL PHOTOS: Damien Danis Fire Photography
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