Massive Fire Rages Through Warehouse Complex

Posted: 8/20/2013

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) - The fire that broke out in the River City Complex is finally under control.

After approximately 9 hours, firefighters were finally able to control a large fire in the 1200 block of Herbert St, but smoke could still be seen Monday night. Demolition crews will be working over night to put out hot spots.

Earlier Monday, AEP shut down power in the area as a safety precaution, leaving neighborhoods in the dark and stop lights out for hours. AEP restored power between 9:30 and 10 p.m. Monday. A railroad in the area has also reopened.

Officials believe storage units, warehouses, and auto repair shops make up the River City complex. A man who owns a business in the complex says he believes there to be 12 to 13 businesses in the area.

Fire officials report a Fire Battalion Chief was patrolling the area and noticed a small plume of smoke coming from a building inside in the complex and called for backup. However, Phil Biddle, who owns Skyline Group Companies, an automotive and medical equipment repair shop, says when he arrived at work just before 2 p.m. Monday, he noticed the smoke and called 911. He says the dispatcher told him they haven't received any other reports and they'll send out a crew. Biddle lost his business to the fire and says he spent all day watching it burn down. He says he's still in shock and the loss hasn't sunk in yet.

Fire officials say they have no idea what caused the fire, but due to the significant damage of multiple structures, the investigation will be lengthy.

Cochran Street from the Tecumseh St. Bridge and Coombs Street to Liberty will remain closed until further notice.

Corinne Rose is reporting on the scene and says there are massive flames shooting 50-60 feet into the air. We are told that the warehouses may house cars, fireworks, pool chemicals and blue foam used for home-building.

50 firefighters that are on scene are being rotated in to battle the blaze for their safety. The smoke is reportedly not toxic and no evacuations have been necessary at this point.

Corinne says it is the largest fire she has seen in years. There is a ladder truck with at least two firefighters trying to fight the fire from above. At times the firefighters are obscured by smoke.

The Tecumseh St. bridge is closed and Coombs St. is closed north of Liberty St.

Power outages are being reported in the surrounding area.

No injuries are reported at this time.

Story provided by:  www.indiananewscenter.com

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