Firefighters suffer minor injuries battling large commercial fire in Elkhart

Courtesy: Lisa Wynn

On Sunday afternoon fire crews responded to a large commercial fire in the 2800 block of Oakland Avenue in Elkhart -- right next to Oakland Lanes bowling.

Two firefighters were sent to the hospital with minor injuries -- a leg injury and heat exhaustion.

Smoke could be seen from far away. Many viewers sent WSBT 22 photos and videos.

Some neighbors heard the fire before they saw the flames.

"We heard some popping and banging, like explosions, and then we saw the big black clouds coming up. We knew something was really wrong," said Randy Brock, who lives nearby.

The roof had already collapsed by the time fire crews arrived around 3:30 p.m. We are told no one was in the building.

Officials tell WSBT 22 the intense level of smoke with moderate-to-heavy winds played a factor in fighting the flames.

They also say the public does not need to worry about that smoke.

"No concerns of any chemical hazards from this fire," Elkhart Fire Department Chief Chad Carey told WSBT 22.

The fire is extinguished, but as of 5 p.m. the Elkhart Fire Department was still on scene spraying water on what was left of the manufacturing facility. We are told Baugo Township and Concord crews are also helping clear debris.

"In the past few weeks we've had multiple fires. It's just been a really busy season for us," said Carey.

The building is owned by Forest River and it was not in use at the time of the fire.

Owners call the fire a "big surprise," saying they were set to expand their bus division into the building next month.

Fire crews say they're working to determine what started the fire.

"There was rumors and reports of some possible small explosions, but the building was empty so we're not sure what they're talking about," Carey said. "We'll find that out in the investigation."

Videos courtesy of Pam Brock and Lisa Wynn.

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