Manufacturing business heavily damaged by fire

Manufacturing business heavily damaged by fire

LAPORTE COUNTY — A manufacturing company in northern LaPorte County was heavily damaged by fire overnight.

The Springfield Township Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched before 1:30 a.m. to GTW Enterprises at 183 W. 800 North.

Springfield Township Fire Chief Steve Marvel said fire departments from throughout LaPorte County and New Buffalo were called to assist with the blaze about three miles east of Indiana 39.

Marvel said the burning metal-sided facility measured close to 300,000 square feet and numerous tanker trucks were needed to keep shuttling water to the scene. The nearest hydrants were several miles away at Linde Welding Gas and Equipment Center and near Springfield Elementary School, he said.

Marvel said the sometimes curvy route to those hydrants also required venturing up and down other roads.

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“There was no straight shot,” he said.

Marvel said the size of the fire also required two aerial trucks, which apply water from above in greater volumes than hoses on the ground.

Upon arrival, firefighters encountered intense fire at the back of the structure with some flames crawling across the ceiling into a longer section of the building.

Marvel said there were also several powerful explosions from tanks containing propane and other gas.

“A fireball went up on the one,” he said.

Firefighters were there for about seven hours. No injuries were reported.

Marvel said roughly half of the building was destroyed.

He estimated the loss, including contents like machinery, at “probably in the millions.”

Marvel said the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office is helping to investigate the cause of the blaze, which is standard procedure for industrial fires.

According to the company’s website, GTW Enterprises was founded in 1992 and is family owned and operated.

The facility makes paper honeycomb products out of recycled paper for the packaging and shipping industries.