Michigan City Firefighters were called to the scene of a commercial structure fire late Monday, Aug. 19.
Firefighters from Station 1 arrived within minutes of the first alarm at 11:14 p.m., and reported heavy smoke conditions.
Fire crews aggressively attacked the structure. However, they quickly ran into problems gaining access to the flames as through the years, the various owners of the building installed multiple security features including steel covers on all second-floor windows and multiple layers to the entry doors including an exterior covering of diamond plate.
It took firefighters several attempts and at least five minutes using hydraulic extrication equipment, power saws, sledgehammers and axes to breech the doors and gain access.
Additionally, the building construction made an aggressive interior attack virtually impossible. The aging building had an all brick exterior with a wood frame interior. There was no alarm system so it is unclear how long the fire was burning prior to firefighters being notified.
Firefighters reported several spots where the floor on the first level was getting soft, and command quickly determined that a defensive attack was the only option.
At one point in time, six master streams were used to extinguish the blaze and protect exposures including four ground and vehicle based master streams and two elevated master streams.
Firefighters remained on scene well into Tuesday afternoon extinguishing hot spots while demolition crews brought the building down. It was demolished as falling bricks were a safety hazard.
Michigan City responded with four engine companies, two ladder companies and a command vehicle. Their efforts were supported by a standby from LaPorte County EMS and traffic control from the Michigan City Police Department. The American Red Cross also responded to the scene and provided food and drink to firefighters battling the blaze.
The cause of the blaze will officially be listed as undetermined. However, the fire was believed to have started around the air conditioning unit.