No injuries reported in Ameriwood Fire Sunday evening

DOWAGIAC — No one was injured in a large structure fire Sunday evening at downtown Dowagiac’s Ameriwood Industries, according to Deputy Fire Chief Robert Smith.

At approximately 5:32 p.m. Sunday, the Dowagiac Fire Department and Wayne Township Fire Department were dispatched to Ameriwood Industries, 202 Spaulding St., Dowagiac, for a commercial structure fire. As units were responding smoke was noted from the structure visible over the downtown area.

During the fire, the Dowagiac Fire Department received aid from assisting Indian Lake, Sister Lakes, Pokagon and Cassopolis fire departments. Arriving units were met with fire showing in the area of the boiler heating and sawdust hopper areas.

Due to heavy fire conditions, noted structural damage and limited visibility in the large structure master streams were deployed from the aerial ladder, apparatus and ground systems.  As conditions improved and the fire isolated crews moved into safe areas of the structure to locate and extinguish hot spots and extension.

The fire was declared under control at about 9:30 p.m. with crews remaining on scene until after midnight to extinguish smaller hot spots in the walls and roofing in the main fire area.

Currently, no injuries have been reported as a result of the fire.

The fire is believed to have started due to an explosion in the boiler feed auger system. This system feeds stored sawdust to a burner which is part of the boiler heating system. Damage to this area included large overhead doors and walls damaged from the explosion. Structural damage from the fire is still being assessed and the department will return to work with Ameriwood crews later Monday for follow up on the amount of total damage.

Fire crews were supported by local businesses and citizens who brought beverages and food to support the firefighters. True’s Towing brought a heated trailer for fire crews to warm up in. The outside temperature during the fire was around 9 degrees.

Smith and fellow firefighters said they were grateful for the community’s support.

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