Abandoned Kendallville factory fire prompts large firefighter response

The old McCray Refrigerator Co. factory was on fire Monday morning

Posted: Jun 4, 2018 11:55 AM
Updated: Jun 5, 2018 11:17 AM

*UPDATE* 06/04/18 3:10 PM 

The Kendallville fire chief says the fire is 100% contained and 99% of hotspots are controlled. Some roads in downtown have opened back up, but main street from Wayne to Harris St remains blocked off.

KENDALLVILLE, Ind. (FOX 55) - A sight for sore eyes. Not often a phrase used to describe the McCray Refrigerator Co. factory in downtown Kendallville. The factory went up in smoke Monday morning. The Kendallville Fire Department received the call around 2:29 AM Monday morning and were on scene within 3 minutes, but they had to put out two more calls for support from surrounding departments.

Crews from 13 different departments helped battle the flames, including those from Washington Township and Huntertown Fire Departments in Allen Co. The fire was so large that the American Red Cross came in to provide meals for the firefighters and Parkview Health was on scene to make sure the firefighters were safe.

Thanks to the windy conditions, some of the embers from the fire carried into downtown, causing a small fire on the rooftop of one of the businesses.

Many of the residents of Kendallville were excited when they heard from the Mayor that the building was going to be torn down, but one person FOX 55 News spoke with was sad to see it go, as she saw it part of her hobby.

Tressie Hass, who's from Avilla, uses the building as a backdrop for senior portraits her and her daughter take. She said that when she heard about the building going up in flames "I was really sad because we're up here a lot taking pictures and I know it's an eye sore and it's not safe and it was going to be torn down eventually, but this was the quick way of doing it. Yeah I'm going to miss it."

Although the building was going to be torn down, there were some plans to salvage parts of the McCray building, but now those plans have changed after the building went up in smoke.

Mike Riehm, the Fire Chief for the City of Kendallville said the plans were to repurpose some of the old wooden beams and the bricks. He said "It was in the middle of a 6 week remediation for asbestos. They were three weeks into it, still had 3 weeks left to go and then we were going to come in and start reclaiming what could be reclaimed but now that's all gone."

Chief Riehm went on to say they don't like seeing fires like this, he's happy all crews were able to work seemlessley, saying "We have 13 departments here. That's how we can work seemlessley together because we all train the same and everybody's training was put to use this morning."

FOX 55 News will have an update as this story develops. There's a press conference scheduled for 3:00 PM Monday.

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