ELMWOOD PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Over 100 firefighters on Wednesday were battling a massive multi-alarm blaze that consumed a sprawling paper plant complex in Bergen County, New Jersey.
Video from the scene shows billowing smoke and hellish flames tearing through the iconic Marcal Paper building on Market Street in Elmwood Park.
Officials say the fire broke out around 5:15 p.m. and triggered an extensive response from area fire companies. Whipping winds made fighting the flames increasingly difficult and carried embers from the raging inferno, creating concern for nearby homes and businesses.
Mayor Frank Caramagna said the roof had collapsed by 6:30 p.m. Nearby, the ramp for exit 61 on I-80 was closed due to heavy smoke affecting traffic on the busy highway.
Officials say the nearly 200 workers inside the mills when flames broke out managed to get out safely. Alexa Felten stood on a corner close by in the frigid temperatures, checking on her father who was among the firefighters on scene.
“I’m at a loss for words,” she said.
The fire is the second reported this month at the site. In 2017, more than 100 firefighters were called to extinguish a blaze at the plant.
Marcal Paper is one of the oldest environmentally friendly paper companies in the United States, according to their website. The company’s been making their products from recycled paper collected from residential neighborhoods for over 50 years.
“The full extent of the damage to our facility is not yet known, but we know the impact will be incalculable to the lives of our dedicated workers and our business as a whole,” Rob Baron, President and CEO of parent company Soundview Paper, said in a statement sent to CBS2. “We are fortunate and thankful that none of the nearly 200 employees working at the mill at the time of the fire were injured, and we are assisting the first responders on site in every way we can. Our top priority in the coming days and weeks will be to support our associates at Marcal whose lives will be directly impacted by this disaster.”
The cause of the Wednesday’s fire remains under investigation.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)