Goshen Fire says fire at Forest River RV plant was accidental

GOSHEN, Ind. -- The Goshen Fire Department responded to reports of a fully involved business fire at the Forest River Lamination Plant on the 2800 block of College Avenue Monday at approximately 8:36 p.m.

Goshen Fire immediately went into a defensive fire attack and received assistance from a number of area service crews.

“We were just working over at Lippert and stepped outside noticed a big cloud of smoke going and kept going really hard. Stayed in the parking lot checked it out a little bit. You could hear it coming down things blowing up popping and then the building started coming down," said Caleb Didnar, Lippert Employee. 

Concord Fire sent an engine and ladder truck to help contain the fire at the site.

New Paris sent an ambulance to stand by the fire scene and assist with any possible injuries.

Jefferson sent an engine crew to stand by at the Central Station to take other calls within city limits.

“The Goshen Fire Department among with several other departments that came to aid us last night just did a phenomenal job of keeping everyone safe and getting the blaze under control," said Jeremy Stutsman, Mayor of Goshen. 

Elkhart Township Fire Department sent an engine crew to Station 3 on College Avenue to take other city calls.

“Goshen Fire would like to thank the departments mentioned for their help,” Assistance Fire Chief Mike Happer said. “It’s good to know we can count on their support during emergencies like this one."

Although there were several large explosions, there were no injuries.

The plant had large amounts of adhesives, fiberglass and other combustible materials located inside.

“It was a lamination plant and there was some fiberglass in there, but as far as the exact makeup of the chemicals I don’t know what those were, but those were part of the reasons the fire got going as hot as it did and as fast as it did," said Stutsman. 

Concerns over air quality were felt by residents and Assistant Fire Chief for Clay Fire Department Dave Cherrone advised residents that they should always stay indoors when seeing a large fire like this one. 

“If you’re standing out there you’re gonna get exposed to something. That’s why the firefighters wear you know we wear the breathing apparatus that’s designed for that," said Cherrone. 

About 2 million gallons of water, as well as some foam were used to put out the blaze.

“Living in this area and in Indiana it’s phenomenal the amount of outreach you get when your community is in need so I just really appreciate all of the people that are willing to help," said Stutsman. 

The large fire had weakened the steel supports causing the roof to collapse, making it especially difficult to deliver water onto the fire in some areas of the plant.

Hot spots inside the building were still burning this morning, and Goshen Fire had an engine crew still on scene to extinguish the fire with the help from an excavator.

A fire investigation was completed Tuesday morning and the fire was determined to be unintentional.

Surveillance video revealed that a portable space heater was running after employees went for home for the evening.

The heater ignited some combustible items that were stored too close to it.

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