20-hour Fire Destroys One Square Block in Indiana

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) -- After 20 hours of work, firefighters on Saturday extinguished a massive fire that began the day before and destroyed a full block of businesses housed in a single subdivided building.

Kokomo officials called the fire, which erupted early Friday evening and lasted until Saturday afternoon, one of the worse blazes in recent history. Eighteen pieces of equipment and more than 60 firefighters were needed to put out the three-alarm blaze.

``We were using everything we could get our hands on,'' Fire Chief Dave Duncan told the Kokomo Tribune. ``It was one of those fires where it wasn't safe to go inside or get on the roof, so we had to stand back and do the best we could.''

The subdivided building destroyed in the fire housed six businesses and one resident. It measured a city block long and half a city block wide.

Fire crews rotated throughout Friday evening and Saturday in battling the fire.

By Saturday afternoon, the site resembled a battle zone, with the rubble from fallen walls still smoking after firefighters extinguished remaining hot spots in the structure.

Fire and Arson Investigator Pat O'Neill said additional equipment will have to be brought in to knock down some of the taller walls that remain standing. The remaining firefighters left the scene about 4 p.m. Saturday.

The cause of the fire is still undetermined, but O'Neill said he doesn't suspect the fire was intentionally set. He said the fire started in the structure's south end.

Fire officials said the building was originally occupied by the Globe American Furnace and Range Co., a company which started into business back in the late 19th century.