Search for fire cause begins at former Dodge building

An investigation into the cause of a Monday night fire at the former Dodge manufacturing plant in Mishawaka began today—albeit from a safe distance.

The first thing Mishawaka Fire Marshal Stephen Gregg did was watch surveillance video.

“We’ve been looking at video, different angles of video that were set up around the property, just to give us an idea to focus on an area of origin,” said Gregg.

Before anyone goes combing through the ruble there will have to be some guarantee that they won’t be hit by falling debris, given the structural instability of the burned out building.

“Some of the heavy equipment is going to have to be hauled in and tear down parts of the building to make it secure enough for anybody to go in there,” said Mishawaka Fire Marshal Gregg.

This afternoon, there was still a fire hose running across the parking lot just to the south of the badly damaged Dodge building.

Perhaps Mishawaka fire crews didn’t bother packing up after they were called out again around 4:30 this morning to put out some “hot spots.”

While great care will be taken to prevent physical injury, the fire has already produced some emotional scars. “Well, you know, you go in here and you spend 40 going in and out of the place every day for every year then you come back and see it burned down like that its rough, to look at something like that,” said Ray Staples who spent four decades working for Dodge.

Staples was among a steady stream of former workers and insurance adjustors to sneak a peek at the building today.

Late this afternoon, the owner of the building, John Cocqyt told News Center 16 that heavy machinery will be brought in to start moving dangerous debris as early as Thursday.

The clean-up will be paid for by the private company that insures the building. Cocqyt stressed that investigators have not yet determined the cause of the fire although they do have some “suspicions.”

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