NJ recycling plant to be demolished after large fire

A Passaic County recycling plant will be demolished following a large blaze over the weekend that saw dozens of firefighters battling the flames amid wind and frigid cold that turned the water from their hoses into treacherous ice, authorities said.

Two firefighters sustained minor injuries during the battle at the Atlantic Coast Fibers plant in Passaic, but all employees were accounted for. Mayor Hector Lora said the fire started before midnight Saturday and there were at least two explosions at the site.

Fire Chief Patrick Trentacost and Nagy Sileem, assistant construction official of the city’s Code Enforcement & Zoning office, made the call to demolish the building, NorthJersey.com reported. Lora said company owner Chris Riviello said he would try to relocate the 200 plant employees, many of whom live nearby.

The cause is under investigation, but Trentacost said he doesn't consider it suspicious, since blazes aren't uncommon in recycling plants.

Lora said fire crews would likely be at the scene for several days. Emergency responders had been prepared to pump water from the Passaic River but found it wasn’t a viable option, he said.

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Atlantic Coast Fibers processes cardboard, paper, plastic containers and other materials for recycling, according to its website. The family-run company dates back over 80 years. A much smaller fire burned large bales of newspaper at the site in May 2015, NorthJersey.com reported.

The fire came two years to the day after a blaze at the Marcal paper plant in nearby Elmwood Park destroyed 30 of 36 buildings, as well as a familiar red sign visible from Interstate 80. About 500 people lost their jobs. The cause was never determined, but prosecutors said arson wasn’t suspected.