MISHAWAKA – A major fire tore through an old factory site Monday evening, summoning 20 units from three fire departments to battle the blaze.
The RMG Foundry building at 500 North Union Street right across from the Mishawaka Fire Station on Union Street became enflamed after 5 p.m. Monday, and the fire consumed much of the structure.
Mishawaka Fire Assistant Chief Mike Talbot said the fire could take all night to extinguish. Firefighters were concentrating on containing the fire so it did not spread to surrounding structures, he said.
With heavy smoke billowing from Union Street toward Laurel Street, fire officials asked a handful of residents on Laurel, near Fifth Street, to evacuate their homes.
RMG Foundry, which produced iron castings used in different industrial products, was once a major part of the Mishawaka economy, but in 2006, officials announced the factory would close. In the shutdown, about 180 people lost their jobs.
Now, the building is a storage unit, housing about 200 to 250 boats, cars and RVs, fire officials said.
Firefighters doused the flames in heavy winds, which presented an added challenge, officials said.
Crowds of people in the surrounding neighborhood stepped outside to watch the flames, visible in much of area just south of downtown Mishawaka.
Bundled up and drinking a can of root beer, 11-year-old Emily Swartz walked from her home on 10th Street to gaze at the fire bigger than any she’d seen.
“The flames are ginormous,” she said.
Fire officials don’t yet know what caused the blaze.
Fire officials said the building had no occupants when the fire broke out. There were no injuries.
Ted Land of WSBT contributed to this report.