(La Porte, IN) - Everyone involved in putting out what could have been the largest fire in the history of La Porte was recognized last night.
La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder presented the October 5 blaze at the old American Rubber plant during last night's city council meeting. He also named each of the firefighters present during the meeting.
Mayor Tom Dermody, who described the fire as "one of the worst in the history of our community," paused the meeting so the firefighters could be greeted by city council members and pose for pictures.
"This is an opportunity tonight to say thank you," Dermody said.
La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder said it took close to six million gallons of water and more than 60 hours of collective work to extinguish the blaze. He also credited Kankakee Township Volunteer Fire Department members for saving the nearby water tower along Brighton Street.
Snyder said the tower adjacent to the property was at risk from the extreme heat of the fire softening the steel, but the water was kept on the metal to keep it cool.
Water was also kept on the flames closest to the tower.
The fire's cause is still unknown but remains under investigation. No human remains in the rubble or gasoline were detected, but arson has not been ruled out.
Snyder said the focus now is finding people who might have been inside the structure before the fire due to reports from nearby residents of the structure getting broken in recent years.
Firefighters from Coolspring Township and Center Township also assisted with putting out the fire, which destroyed the building.
Snyder said about one-third of the structure contained expired containers of hand sanitizer being stored there until it could be transported to an incinerator near Plymouth for disposal.