Saturday, February 4, 2017


This morning's six-alarm fire at the Avalon Bay apartment complex site again raised concerns about the company's safety record and past fires as investigators continue to dig through rubble for a cause and any sign of negligence.

Fire officials said there is no cause yet, but Mayor Vic Deluca this morning termed it an "accident," and said no further construction permits would be issued at the site until it is clear what happened and that the developer would make sure it did not reoccur.

"There was an accident, preliminary investigation being investigated by the prosecutor's office, Essex County Prosecutor's Office," Deluca said at Saturday morning's Township Committee budget hearing. He later added, "There's been some comments about Avalon Bay, there was a fire in Edgewater years back." 

He was referring to the 2015 fire at an Avalon Bay complex in Edgewater that left dozens homeless and prompted union leaders to voice concerns at a Township Committee meeting that year about working conditions. 

The mayor said today that the Township had negotiated "higher standards of building that required heavier gauge piping and sprinkler systems and sprinkling in certain areas" for the Maplewood site. 

Deluca said the Township would make sure the safest conditions are in place before any rebuilding can be done at the Maplewood site. 

"We also now will meet with Avalon Bay to understand what happened," he said. "And before we give out permits again for them to rebuild we will make sure whatever occurred here there will be no situation where this could happen again." 

He said the fire also affected part of the NJ Transit parking garage next door and NJ Transit, which is already leasing space in the Maplewood Pool lot, has asked to park more vehicles there until its garage is deemed safe.

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