Marcal Paper inferno left no signs of arson, investigators say
ELMWOOD PARK — After a thorough investigation into the 10-alarm fire at the Marcal Paper Company, there was no indication that the fire was intentionally set, according to Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella.
He also announced on Monday that the cause of the fire, which was knocked down on Jan. 31, still cannot be determined due to the extensive damage it left behind.
The fire, which destroyed 31 of the 36 buildings located in the company's complex, started in the storage area of Building 41, Musella said. The building was the northeastern most structure on the southern side of the railroad tracks at the site.
Large rolls of paper used to make the company's products were kept in that area (section PM2) of the building, according to investigators, who interviewed more than a hundred Marcal Paper employees and other workers, neighbors and witnesses.
The cause of the Marcal Paper fire will be classified as undetermined pending further information, Musella said.
“What happened on January 30th was indeed a ‘perfect storm’; horrific weather conditions with freezing water and 30 mph winds, combining with a fast-moving blaze to make containing this fire at a paper mill, despite remarkable courage by hundreds of first responders, simply impossible. While we lost so much that night, including the company we knew – the company so many people had worked years to build and save – none of the 200 individuals in the building were injured. For that, we are very grateful," Soundview Paper Company President and CEO Rob Baron said in a written statement on Tuesday.
Baron also said "Our team is actively exploring all realistic pathways to restart a strong and viable business at our iconic site in Elmwood Park. With continued support, we hope to write a new and great chapter for Marcal in the State of New Jersey.”
Just last week, officials said the borough spent nearly $185,000 fighting the sprawling fire, but they believe insurance will cover most if not all of that amount.
NorthJersey.com reported of that amount, almost $85,000 was on first responders' payroll and repair and replacement of equipment cost more than $92,000.
Soundview Paper Company, which owns Marcal Paper, said back in February that its future in New Jersey remains uncertain and most of the 500 employees at the borough plant are out of work.
Each displaced worker was offered $5,500 in transition aid and had their existing healthcare plans extended through March.
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