Elkhart County fire crews have been on the scene at Better Way Products’ facility in New Paris, Ind., since 2 a.m. fighting a large fire. For the full report and to watch a video click here.
WNDU reported that multiple agencies were called out to the 70000 block of County Road 23 in New Paris. Better Way is a key supplier of fiberglass sidewalls to the RV and commercial vehicle industries.
“We got the call that said we had a heavy fire at Better Way Products and that employees were out of the building. We arrived on scene and we had heavy fire coming out of the front doors and so we knew we had something so we started calling mutual aid companies in for help,” explained New Paris Fire Chief Joe Warstler.
Warstler believes that the fire started in the front of the building because that is where the heaviest fire was at the time. When they arrived they also saw smoke coming out of the back of the building so they knew the whole building was filled with smoke.
Crews have now extinguished most of the blaze, but remain on the scene putting out hot spots. Warstler says this fire was really hard to fight.
“We brought excavating equipment in because it was a really hard fire to fight because we couldn’t get to it. We brought two ladder trucks in, but we really couldn’t attack the fire because the roof was still intact so we had to knock down doors and walls to get to the fire,” Warstler continues.
Plus, he says one of the reasons they had to call in at least 10 departments was because there were no fire hydrants on scene.
“We are out here in the country and that’s how we shuttle water, with tankers. So, we go to hydrants where we can get water, like farmers irrigation wells, different things like that to get our water,” says Warstler.
Warstler says there was at least one explosion in the structure during the fire. He says it was an acetone barrel. Since this company worked with fiberglass there were several chemicals inside.
“We knew where the one big resin tank was and we kept everyone away from that area,” says Warstler.
Luckily, no injuries were reported and despite a lot of smoke coming from the blaze, no evacuations were issued for nearby residents.