03/12/12 Folks from as far away as Culver, LaPaz and Walkerton could see black smoke billowing in the sky Saturday afternoon as the Liberty Street Depot in Plymouth caught fire and was completely destroyed.
A 9-1-1 call about 4:45 sent the Plymouth Fire Department to the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Liberty Street to the former Wagoner Wire/United Technologies industrial building for a structure fire with thick smoke showing from the roof. Firefighters immediately set up the snorkel truck on the west side of the building and began battling the blaze.
Mutual aid was sought by nearly every department in the county. The Bremen Fire Department brought their aerial truck over and battled the blaze from the sky. Tippecanoe and Polk Townships were the only two in Marshall County not called to assist. Chief Miller explained, “In case there was another fire call somewhere in the County they would be able to respond.”
Plymouth’s new Fire Chief, Rod Miller said, “At least seven departments responded with an estimated 80 to 100 firefighters.” While they were battling the roaring fire for hours the Koontz Lake Fire Department stood on stand-by at Plymouth’s fire house. While most of the firemen fought the fire, but the Rochester Department patrolled the homes on Pennsylvania Avenue and Ferndale Street as large hot cinders were blown from the fire onto the homes directly to the north of the warehouse. At times firefighters sprayed water on the homes as a precaution and put out small grass fires.
It appears that the fire began on the west side of the building and eventually spread to the east. At times it would sound like an explosion as several of the brick walls collapsed. Over the hours the fire seemed to die down and then it would battle back with vengeance.
A few homes were evacuated later in the evening because of the thick smoke that filled the air. The American Red Cross sent an Emergency Response vehicle to the scene and offered sandwiches, water and coffee to the firefighters who were there late into the night.
Chief Miller was experiencing his 10th day on the job. Earlier in the day they had battled a grass fire at Jellystone and a house fire on 12B Road near Hawthorn. He said, “I think I’ve been baptized into the job now.”
Chief Miller wanted to thank the fire department who provided mutual aid, the city department heads that assisted at the scene, the Red Cross and the citizens for being cooperative during and following the fire.
Utility Superintendent Donny Davidson wants to warn citizens living near the fire scene of brown water. Because approximately 1 million of gallons of water was used on the fire, water mains in the area are bound to have stirred up sediment in the lines causing brown water for a few days.