Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

State News

January 30, 2014

Fire burns for hours at NE Indiana sawmill

GRABILL (AP) — Firefighters worked several hours in subzero temperatures Wednesday battling a large blaze that destroyed much of a northeastern Indiana sawmill.

Crews arriving about 1:30 a.m. at the Cedar Creek Sawmill near the Allen County town of Grabill found one building already fully engulfed in flames, said David Ringer, the St. Joseph Township fire chief. Winds and flammable materials in and around the building quickly fueled the blaze.

Flames that towered at least 50 feet into the air and heavy smoke could be seen for miles around in the rural area about 10 miles northeast of Fort Wayne.

At least 80 firefighters from about 15 departments were called in, with many trucks shuttling water to the site while temperatures fell to about 5 below zero, Ringer told WANE-TV. A bus was brought to the scene so that firefighters could go inside to get warm.

"We've had an issue with valves freezing," Ringer said. "We're having trouble getting our tankers refilled to get water back to the scene."

He said wood pallets stacked 25 feet high inside one of the buildings fueled the fire that was still smoldering after about 12 hours.

No injuries were reported and the fire's cause wasn't immediately determined.

Ringer said firefighters were able to save a nearby house and some buildings associated with the sawmill.

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