A fire broke out in the pre-dawn hours at the American Dream Mall on Saturday, long before the sprawling complex in the Meadowlands opened, but was quickly contained as firefighters for the Meadowlands and from surrounding communities converged on the site.
The three-alarm smokey blaze began in the area of the Big SNOW ski slope. Firefighters from an on-site fire brigade serving the Sports Complex and the American Dream were joined by companies from East Rutherford, Wood-Ridge and other surrounding communities to fight a fire that spread briefly to the exterior of the building.
No one was hurt, authorities said.
American Dream delayed its opening until shortly after 1:20 p.m., when it reopened its doors.Big SNOW was closed.
State Police, which provide law enforcement services to the American Dream property, said the fire was first reported at 4:15 a.m. inside the Big Snow ski slope.
“The fire was contained to the top of the ski slope,” said State Police spokesman Sgt. Alejandro Goez. “The Meadowlands Fire Department led the response with assists from Bergen County and several area fire departments also responded in the effort to successfully extinguish the fire. The building was unoccupied at the time and there are no injuries reported.”
Goez said a preliminary investigation deemed that the fire was non-suspicious.
East Rutherford Deputy Chief Phillip Taormina, noting that the Meadowlands has its own fire service, said his department was dispatched for mutual aid support.
E905 to the American Dream mall for a working fire at Big Snow at 05:20 hours this morning.
— Wood-Ridge Fire Dept (@WRFire) September 25, 2021
By 9:30 am, the only exterior sign of the blaze from the ground was a vertical dark crack in the otherwise smooth white exterior of the ski slope, with water dripping still off the building. The scene by mid-morning was of static chaos. More than 20 emergency vehicles remained on site with their lights flashing, including response teams from the State Police and fire departments from Hasbrouck Heights, Secaucus, East Rutherford, Hackensack, Teaneck, Wellington, and more, all joining the Meadowlands’ fire fighters.
By then, however, the fire appeared to be out, and the mood among the dozens of firefighters who remained seemed light as some trucks began rolling out.
Some firefighters, though, remained on the roof of the structure, assessing fire damage.
Big SNOW said on its website that it would be temporarily closed. It noted that any guests with pre-purchased tickets would be contacted directly and refunded.
Hugh Reynolds, a Big SNOW spokesman, confirmed there were no injuries as the incident occurred outside of its normal hours of operation.
“We are tremendously thankful for the quick response and efforts of the local fire departments in working to contain this fire,” said Reynolds, adding that the ski slop will be closed while they assess the damage.
“We will release more details soon,” Reynolds said.
Big SNOW is an indoor, 16-story, 180,000 square-foot ski and snowboard park that is kept cold by heavy duty chillers that maintain a 28 degree temperature year-round.
Melissa Howard, a spokeswoman for American Dream, said they delayed their opening, but reopened at about 1:20 p.m. on Saturday.
American Dream, a massive 3.3-million-square-foot retail and entertainment complex just off the Turnpike in East Rutherford opened in late 2019.
The latest and last major section of the megamall opened earlier this month with The Avenue — a collection of high-end retail stores housed in a 300,000-square-foot corridor of the complex.
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Josh Solomon may be reached at [email protected].