Emergency crews called to fire at South Bend building

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 10:08 AM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Crews are investigating a fire at a building on South Bend’s near west side on Monday morning.

Emergency crews were called just after 8:30 a.m. to the corner of Lincoln Way West and Brookfield Street. The building is home to CB Specialist, who sells and repairs CB (citizens band) radios.

The structure comprises three spaces: the business in the front, a garage off the alley, and an upstairs apartment.

South Bend Fire Dept. Battalion Chief Mike Lagodney detailed what made this blaze particularly difficult to put out.

“Obviously, we’re dealing with the elements of weather,” Lagodney said. “Every guy and girl over here is cold right now, and they’re wet. The three buildings merged together, chopped together, different roof lines, different construction throughout, very difficult.”

The fire was essentially an “all hands on deck” situation, as nearly every fire truck in South Bend responded to the blaze.

“I don’t know at one time, Lagodney said. I think we were close to having every rig in the city of South Bend here, which would be 11 engines, four ladders, one rescue unit, ambulances, a lot.”

Lagodney told 16 News Now that there were no injuries due to the fire.

“Everyone got out,” Lagodney added. “I think we had a couple of our guys that got banged up a little bit. They got in an ambulance, got checked out; I think they’ll be okay.”

Currently, it is unclear how the fire started. But store employees tell 16 News Now that the building contained many old electronic devices and cables, which are highly flammable.

“There are fuel tanks in the garage that were on fire; heavy fire load,” Lagodney said. “We did our best to control it. We went defensive right away, just a lot of fire and three buildings put together in multiple different ways, so we’re chasing down hotspots all over the place. There was electric; there were fuel tanks burning in there, propane tanks burning; we don’t even know (all) that was in there.”

The manager of the store, Dave Plonski, lives upstairs. He told 16 News Now that he knows he lost everything, including irreplaceable keepsakes. However, he did say his dog, Rex, made it out of the apartment safely.

The fire also spread to an adjacent property but was quickly put out.

“We had one fire over to the west,” Lagodney noted. “We got a crew over there and had a handline in place to protect that exposure, so we took care of that pretty quickly.”

Lincoln Way West was closed to traffic between Johnson Street and College Street as crews worked to put out the blaze.

“We shut it down because our water supplies are crossing the street, so you can’t drive down,” Lagodney said. “Police did a good job of blocking traffic for us,” Lagodney said.

Lagodney explained why South Bend Fire Dept. fought this fire for over nine hours and how his team extinguished the fire.

“We’re going to cut open some walls because we can’t go interior for the amount of fire that was in the building. We did go interior for a brief moment. The fire was too intense, and we couldn’t control it, so we just stayed outside and put our master streams up and sprayed from the outside in.”

Lagodney continued explaining why they can’t wash off the toxic materials that accumulate on the flame-retardent suits.

“No, we would freeze. We’re cold enough as it is. So, we’re sending our people through rehab and getting them warmed up, rotating crews out from stations is what’s next; bring fresh bodies out and let these guys go catch a break, go to the bathroom, have something to eat, and warm up.”


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