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Neighbors react to building that caught fire in South Bend

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- “I saw black smoke coming from a distance and I called 911 immediately,” said Dannielle Stewart who witnessed the large fire on South Bend’s south side Monday afternoon.

Billowing smoke clouds rising from a vacant building could be seen clear across the city by drivers who called in to tell ABC 57 News.

“Heavily involved. Our company was en route, you could see the smoke from miles away,” said Michael Lagodney, a Battalion Chief with the South Bend Fire Dept.

Danielle Stewart, who made the call, says she didn’t know where it was coming from at first, but she wasn’t willing to take any chances on someone’s safety.

“Once I called 911 I said ‘I think there’s a house fire going on’. I was just shocked I mean I just wanted to make sure people weren’t hurt and that there wasn’t any people in side and I wanted to make sure they were all ok,” said Stewart. The fire ended up being at a vacant building behind Express Mart at the corner of Dubail Avenue and Michigan Street.

 Fire crews say it took about 35 men to put the flames out and luckily no rescues had to be made.

“With the amount of fire, given what was going on we had walls collapsing right from the start we stay away and we do what we call ‘surround the drown’, put a lot of water on it, keep everyone away and safe,” said Lagodney.

About a dozen neighbors tell ABC 57 News off camera that the building was prone to drug activity and was being used by the homeless for shelter everyday.

But Stewart says, after that big of a fire, she’s just glad no one was hurt.

“I’m just shocked to see that happen.”

Fire crews are still investigating the cause of that fire.

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