UPDATE: Fire at Elkhart Co. plastics company finally out - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Fire at Elkhart Co. plastics company finally out

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The fire at a massive factory on Woodlawn Ave. is out after crews spent more than two days working it.  Crews were fighting the fire from 2:00am Sunday morning until 3:30pm on Tuesday.

The fire was under control Sunday, but a fire continued to burn underneath a large amount of debris.  Crews spent the next two days containing the fire.

There are a handful of homes next to the property, but the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Elkhart County Health Department reported to firefighters that there was no toxicity concern.

The thick, black smoke resulted from the burning of materials inside the Lami Plast building which includes fiber glass and plastic products. Still, there was ash that made its way into the neighborhood as the smoke blew with a southeasterly wind. Chunks of burnt fiber glass could be spotted on the front lawns of some homes.  The smoke brought some concern to residents. 

Vilena and Allen Sage were checking on their 91-year old grandfather who lives a block away from the Lami Plast Building. Vilena says the smoke has been affecting her son.  

"He has bronchopulmonary dysplasia which is a rare lung disease," she said. "In the truck driving down here to check on my grandpa, who's 91 years old.  [My son] is coughing and choking really, really, bad," she says.

The elderly were not the only people concerned by the blowing ash and smoke. "My sister is pregnant and she's got bad breathing with it and we don't want it to affect the baby," Allen Sage said.  

The Assistant Chief of the Osolo Fire Department said anyone with asthma or other respiratory problems could be aggravated if they are in the area under these conditions.

Fire officials tell us they sent a crew there at 11:00pm Saturday night. They found the roof had collapsed because of the snow, but didn't see any indication of fire at the time.  It wasn't until 2:00am that they got the call of a fully engulfed blaze at the building.

"If you were to take a football field and put a building on it, this is about what you have as far as the size in square footage," Assistant Chief of the Osolo Fire Department Jo Johnston said.

Jackie Sanders is a resident of the area. "When I saw it, it blew my mind. I didn't know what it was. It scared us." Sanders also works for the Elkhart Emergency Management Department. "The next thing I know I was getting a call to come out here and [the call] said there's a fire a block away."

There were several issues facing the firefighters. The winter weather meant firefighters dealt with slippery conditions, equipment freezing and taking shifts in order to go to their trucks to warm up. That unfortunately was not the biggest obstacle. Because the fire has been going so long, firefighters that were taking vacation days or had scheduled time off have been coming in to assist.

"We have a metal roof that has fallen down over all of this flammable material," Johnston said. "It makes it virtually impossible to get water on the flammable material."

Construction equipment was brought to the scene to clear pieces of metal and other debris in order to make the remaining flames visible.

The fire chief says two firefighters from Cleveland Twp. Fire Department were injured, with one of the men confirmed to have been treated and released from the Elkhart General Hospital.

Video above courtesy Matthew Schrock.

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