The vast majority of the South Bend Fire Department was on the scene of a major business blaze at the corner of W. Ewing Ave. and S. Main St., just south of downtown.
Around 10:30 a.m., firefighters were called to meat storage facility Plumrose USA Inc., with active smoke and flames brewing inside.
“I was sitting in my semi when it all happened,” Naomi Rosell recalls. “I seen the cops coming and all of a sudden I heard it blow up. And then the transformers went and from then on there come your fire department.”
The South Bend Fire Department issued a HazMat alarm because of the high level of refrigerator coolant and ammonia inside the facility.
"It was a very white smoke coming out at first, but then it kind of turned into a greyish-white smoke,” explains South Bend Fire Marshal Federico Rodriguez. “That's where the concern was."
It took crews about an hour to put out the fire in one of the recycling units. Fortunately, no one was injured.
This isn't the first time the plant has caused problems for the city, with a similar incident having taken place just this past summer. Employees believe old equipment is to blame, and the company was in the process of updating machinery before the fire broke out.
Authorities are still investigating a direct cause.
An evacuation of homes and other businesses in the surrounding area was lifted Saturday afternoon.