MAPLEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Crews from 24 different fire companies worked for several hours to extinguish a blaze that destroyed part of an Essex County apartment complex.

Authorities say the fire started around 1:30 am on the top floor of the construction site at 200 Boyden Avenue.

The apartments were nearing completion with residents scheduled to move into 30 of the units in six weeks.

According to Deputy Fire Chief Walt Nugent, efforts to put out the fire were made more difficult by the active construction site.

“It absolutely is more dangerous when under construction,” he said. “There could be more openings, sprinkler systems might not be completed.”

Crews faced hazards like power lines, propane tanks, and the threat of collapse.

“Buildings, when they’re done with construction, get a certificate of occupancy that say they’re okay to be occupied,” Nugent said. “This didn’t have that, but we’re still going to go in obviously and the building is under construction, so there are certain hazards. But they were able to handle it accordingly.

As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reports, AvalonBay — which owns the building — faced a similar situation two years ago in Edgewater when flames tore through another one of their construction sites.

In Maplewood, Mayor Victor DeLuca says there were 235 units in total at the complex, thirty of which were ready to be moved into.

“The plan was to move some people in here in about six weeks,” he said.

One firefighter suffered minor injuries after slipping on ice.

In a statement sent to CBS2, AvalonBay said they’re working with authorities to investigate the fire at their upcoming development in Maplewood.

“The company greatly appreciates the quick actions of local emergency responders in extinguishing the fire, and we are thankful that there are no reports of serious injury,” the statement continued. “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 cause of the fire remains under investigation as crews are expected to remain on scene to prevent the fire from starting back up.




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