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Large fire destroys old, empty factory building in LaPorte

LaPorte Mayor Tom Dermody (right) and Fire Chief Andy Snyder (left) give an update on the large structure fire in downtown LaPorte.
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LaPorte Mayor Tom Dermody (right) and Fire Chief Andy Snyder (left) give an update on the large structure fire in downtown LaPorte.

Officials say a large structure fire in an old, empty factory building in LaPorte is 90 percent contained as of Wednesday afternoon.

In a Facebook Live video, Mayor Tom Dermody said no one was injured, but asked residents to avoid the Brighton Street area for safety.

“It’s the largest fire in some time, if not the history of the city of LaPorte,” Dermody said. “LaPorte is not a dumping ground, and this is not acceptable in any way.”

The fire began late Tuesday night. The exact cause is currently unknown, but LaPorte fire chief Andy Snyder said the fire “should not have happened.”

“We were aware that they were storing hand sanitizers in here, but they were supposed to have somebody on this site 24/7 and that’s not what was happening,” Snyder said. “We were not notified of it until well into flames coming through the back side of the building.”

The South Bend Tribune reports the building was a former American Rubber plant.

An air quality advisory has been issued due to smoke. Dermody said firefighters from LaPorte, Center Township, Coolspring Township and Kankakee Township responded to the blaze.

Contact Jakob at jlazzaro@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @JakobLazzaro.

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Jakob Lazzaro comes to Indiana from Chicago, where he graduated from Northwestern University in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and a double major in History. Before joining WVPE, he wrote NPR's Source of the Week e-mail newsletter, and previously worked for CalMatters, Pittsburgh's 90.5 WESA and North by Northwestern.