Smoke and flames took over the Mishawaka skyline Monday night as firefighters battled one of the city's biggest blazes in decades.
Just before 5:30 p.m., they were called to the old RMG Foundry building at 500 E. Union St., directly behind the central fire station.
When firefighters arrived, there was heavy smoke and large flames pouring out of the roof. The blaze quickly grew, thanks, in part, to wind gusts topping 30 mph.
"The more fuel it has, the more difficult it is for us to get ahead of," said Mishawaka Fire Chief Dale Freeman.
What's inside the building didn't help, either. During winter months, it's used as a storage facility. Freeman says there could be upwards of 200 cars, RVs and boats inside -- many with fuel.
Throughout the night, several small explosions could be heard coming from inside the building. Freeman says those explosions could have come from bursting propane tanks.
By 7 p.m., the structure's roof and walls had begun to collapse, keeping firefighters from entering the warehouse.
Mishawaka's entire fire department is on the scene, assisted by South Bend, Clay Township and Penn Township crews.
Freeman says they'll likely be fighting hot spots into the early hours of the morning. It's unclear what caused the blaze.
It could be days before it's safe enough for the fire marshal to get inside the building and start investigating.
Because of water issues, several streets will be closed until the blaze is out so firefighters can run hoses from nearby hydrants.
According to an online article by Foundry Management & Technology, RMG Foundry closed its 300,000 sq. foot facility in 2006 after losing a large contract from a major customer.
At the time of the shutdown, the warehouse was home to 180 workers, which created “cast iron products for power-transmission equipment,” the article stated. At its height, RMG Foundry processed 6,000 different castings daily.
"We are disappointed that RMG will not be able to work in the future with its customers, associates and vendors. Everyone at RMG will work hard to have the wind-down and closing go as smooth as possible,” the company said in a July 2006 statement.