ELKHART — Fire destroyed a Forest River recreational vehicle manufacturing plant Tuesday afternoon, but no injuries were reported.
Employees of Vibe Plant 59 at C.R. 15 and Pine Creek Road watched from across the street as firefighters poured water onto the building.
They said only five or six employees were in the plant when the fire started about 3:45 p.m. Usually about 60 employees work there, they said, but work for the day was winding down.
Employees said they heard a small explosion near the front of the building, "like something heavy fell." They started to investigate but fled the building when they heard a second, louder explosion.
A plume of black smoke poured into anotherwise blue sky, and could be seen for miles, before firefighters brought the fire under control hours later. The plant is between Jackson Boulevard and Middlebury Street on the city's east side.
Elkhart Fire Chief Chad Carey said flames were already coming through the roof by the time firefighters arrived, and the fire spread quickly through the building.
Investigators were called in to determine the cause of the fire, he said, but "right now, we have no idea," Carey said about 5:30 p.m.
Firefighters from Osolo and Concord townships also were called to the scene. Carey said about 40 firefighters were on the scene in addition to those providing support from other departments.
Employees said the plant that burned was the primary manufacturing facility while a second plant to the north, which was not damaged, was a finishing plant.