By Denise Bohn (firstname.lastname@example.org)
5:38 PM EST, February 12, 2013
MISHAWAKA – For Mishawaka Battalion Chief Jim Cocquyt, the RMG Foundry fire has impacted him professionally and personally.
He spent the day trying to help put out stubborn hot spots at the foundry, which had been turned into a storage building.
He stored some items in the building, which is owned by his father, John Cocquyt, and his uncle.
"I've got plenty of stuff in there that I lost," Cocquyt said.
Underneath charred timbers and twisted steel beams of a section of the old RMG Foundry site is Cocquyt's lawn mower and snowmobiles.
"Mostly toys. It's all replaceable."
Cocquyt's father and uncle bought the building years ago. The plan was to use it for scrap metal. In the meantime, Cocquyt says a majority of the property is used for storage.
Starboard Choice Marine, located on Division Street in Mishawaka, is one of about a half-dozen businesses that stored items, like boats and other high ticket items such as RVs, in the warehouse. Owners of Starboard did not want to go on camera, saying they were too busy contacting customers to let them know about the fire. "But we can say customers are being very supportive," added an unidentified man working behind the counter.
"Some of the boats were big boats with living quarters in them, some cabins, a lot of motor homes," explained Cocquyt. "They all had LP tanks in them, various sizes, 30 pounds and above."
Fire investigators believe it may have been those propane tanks exploding that people heard Monday night as firefighters battled the blaze.
Cocquyt says sections of the 200,000 plus square foot foundry are 100-years-old, and a good portion of it is still standing.
However, one section on the south side of the building is completely wiped out, where the losses could run into the millions.
"Unfortunately, this was an occupied section, and there's people that had a lot of valuable things. You know, mostly toys, but those can be replaced," added Cocquyt. "That's why we have insurance. None of the important things were really lost."
WSBT News did hear from a woman who lost a $40,000 pontoon boat in the fire. She stores her boat through Starboard Choice Marine and says they told her they lost 121 boats in Monday's fire.
Fortunately, she had insurance.
Fire investigators expect it will take days before they can actually get into the building and start looking for an origin or a cause.
Copyright © 2013, WSBT-TV