ELMWOOD PARK — Just under a year after a 10-alarm fire damaged its 16-acre facility, Marcal Paper will resume making paper products at the plant in January.

The iconic red neon MARCAL sign along Route 80 collapsed during the fire in the bitter single-digit cold on Jan. 30, 2019. The blaze took more than 100 firefighters eight hours to extinguish.

The fire also left 500 workers without jobs and an uncertain futures, as parent company Soundview Paper Company  assessed and rebuilt the site.

Marcal helped its employees by extending health benefits, offering financial assistance and connecting them with employment opportunities.

Marcal President and CEO Rob Baron in a statement Monday said the plant will reopen in the new year. He did not give an exact date, but a statement said the opening would take "less than a year" after the fire.

“The prospect of such an announcement seemed impossible 11 months ago, when a devastating fire eliminated 80 years of manufacturing history in less than eight hours. Thanks to the support we have received from the awesome New Jersey community, and the efforts of our entire team, we will soon return to regular papermaking operations in Elmwood Park," Baron said.

The company will host an event at the site to commemorate its return.

Marcal Paper factory after a fire
Marcal Paper factory after a fire (Fireground Buff Network, LLC)

Baron said Marcal had to restore utilities to the site, repair and replace equipment and infrastructure, replace the fire suppression system and demolish buildings.

“We did not want to just start up some machines and fail. From day one, we wanted to give ourselves a fighting chance to hire back as many people as we could, as fast as we could, while ensuring we had a viable, sustainable roadmap to thrive in a very challenging market,” Baron said.

Since the fire, Marcal merged with Pennsylvania based Nittany Paper, which Baron called the "only viable pathway to restarting operations in Elmwood Park now, and saving (the) brand, while leaving open future opportunities for growth or redevelopment at (the) site in New Jersey."

The fire, which destroyed 31 of the 36 buildings located in the company's complex, started in the storage area of Building 41, Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella has said. The building was the northeastern-most structure on the southern side of the railroad tracks at the site.

An exact cause could not be determined because of the extensive damage, according to Musella.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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