UPDATE: Crews battle South Bend structure fire; businesses affected by outage

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Crews battled a large structure fire in downtown South Bend Thursday afternoon.

Firefighters were called to the Maennerchor Club around 1:30 p.m. That's located at 219 Sycamore St.

“The fire was devastating,” Maennerchor Club trustee Kendall Griffey said.

The fire burned through the roof of a two-story building on the south side of the club property, which has a hall that is rented out for receptions and parties.

“We’ve had a lot of wedding receptions, retirement parties, birthday parties and you know there are a lot of memories here,” Griffey said.

At its peak, the smoke reached high into the air and was visible for miles. There were also times when the wind kept the smoke low to the ground and made it hard for pedestrians to breath.

The LaSalle and Colfax bridges were closed as crews used two ladder trucks to fight the fire in what was an 'outside' job:

"But not being able to get lines on the inside, and you’re still trying to attack the fire from the outside. It's just a matter of, and then the positioning of our aerial equipment kind of limits you on how you can hit the fire that’s still burning on the inside," South Bend Fire Department Capt. Gerard Ellis said.

The proximity of some electric lines to the front of the structure also created logistical problems.

"On Sycamore Street with the power lines, so that was a big concern of ours, and that limited our operations to just a couple sides of the structure," Ellis said.

Some scattered power outages involving buildings and traffic lights in the area were related to the firefighting efforts.

Power was restored later in the evening. Despite the fire getting the most of what the club had left, it did not burn through everything. Griffey, who has been coming to the Maennerchor Club for over 30 years, says the there is still some life left.

“Most of the stuff downstairs was not burnt, just a lot of water damage,” Griffey said.

Although the club may not look the same way it used to be, it is the memories that will always be the same.

“Fires cannot destroy memories and friendships and those will remain no matter what happens to this building,” Griffey said.

Maennerchor trustees plan to meet with insurance companies and the fire department to discuss future plans of the club. There is no word on whether or not a rebuild is to come but members are optimistic for a new beginning.

According to officials, there's no indication that anyone was injured in the fire.

It will probably be tomorrow before investigators enter the building and search for a cause.