Tougher Building Codes Considered After Jersey Apartment Complex Fire

January 27, 2015

As power was restored to those living around a luxury apartment complex destroyed by a fire this week, officials thanked those who have supported the more than 1,000 people displaced and a lawmaker announced a planned measure aimed at the state’s building code.

Edgewater Mayor Michael McPartland said Friday that power was restored around where the Edgewater at The Avalon burned down across the Hudson River from New York City.

“I’m just so proud of everyone who was involved here,” McPartland said. “In a terrible tragedy, what I see coming out of it is the people of Edgewater coming together as a prideful town that we always have been.”

Officials say workers accidentally started the fire, and Fire Chief Thomas Jacobson said the building’s lightweight, wooden structure fueled the flames and made fighting the fire difficult. The construction was done appropriately based on building codes, officials said, and no one died or was seriously hurt.

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said he plans to introduce a bill aimed at strengthening building codes. Prieto worked as a construction code official and said the building’s materials may have caused the fire to spread.

“Thank God this devastating fire did not result in any fatalities, but it has shattered the lives of hundreds of people, and reports about how the building’s materials and design may have contributed to the spread of the fire are deeply troubling,” Prieto said in a statement.

Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco said it will be up to state officials to decide whether the building codes need to be changed.

“Will it be a good idea to take a look at an experience like this so that maybe we can prevent something as catastrophic? Certainly, and I think that’s something we would all feel good to do,” Tedesco said.

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