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Sprinklers Not Working, Cause Unknown In Lyndhurst Plant Fire, Chief Says

The building had to be demolished.
The building had to be demolished. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Lyndhurst FD
No serious injuries were reported.
No serious injuries were reported. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Lyndhurst FD
Lyndhurst's Office of Emergency Management said the smoke posed no health hazards -- although citizens downwind were urged to close their windows for the time being.
Lyndhurst's Office of Emergency Management said the smoke posed no health hazards -- although citizens downwind were urged to close their windows for the time being. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Lyndhurst FD
The county sheriff's Bureau of Criminal Identification collected evidence.
The county sheriff's Bureau of Criminal Identification collected evidence. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Lyndhurst FD

LYNDHURST, N.J. -- Investigators were trying to determine why sprinklers were turned off in a paper recycling plant destroyed by a Thanksgiving Day fire, Daily Voice has learned.

What's more, "the fire department connection to supply the suppression system was blocked by bundles of compressed material," Fire Chief Paul Haggerty said Saturday.

Some were 25 feet high, he said.

Fortunately, none of three injuries sustained by firefighters was serious, Haggerty told Daily Voice.

Two had heat exhaustion and a third a minor leg injury, the chief said. A Secaucus firefighter also was evaluated and released at the scene, he said.

Although a "burn barrel" originally was believed responsible, "the conclusion of the investigation is that the cause is undetermined," Haggerty said.

"The origin of fire was found to be on the north east side of the building with no determined source," he said. "The area was where recycled paper products were located prior to being sorted."

A "modified skeleton crew" of employees working the holiday got out before the three-alarm blaze tore through the 75-by-200-foot NYNJ Reclycing warehouse on Page Avenue behind the Schuyler Diner around 11:30 a.m.

Flames jumped to the nearby Omega Plastics building, but sprinklers there saved it, Haggerty said.

No fewer than 50 firefighters from several area departments -- among them, Carlstadt, East Rutherford and North Arlington -- battled the blaze.

Lyndhurst's Office of Emergency Management said the smoke posed no health hazards -- although citizens downwind were urged to close their windows for the time being.

Lyndhurst fire officials were investigating along with Police Detective Vincent Auteri. The county sheriff's Bureau of Criminal Identification collected evidence.

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