SOUTH BEND – A fire set by an arsonist destroyed an abandoned old building in South Bend located at 424 Robert Bush Drive in South Bend (near the Willapa Harbor Helping Hands building by Ferry St.) early last Wednesday morning.
The South Bend Fire Department arrived at approximately 12:40 a.m. It took members of the volunteer fire department about 10 minutes to arrive.
South Bend Police Chief told the Herald Monday morning that the “fire was arson” and that he “has a person of interest” in the case. “There is a subject that was seen out later that night.
“He gained entry thought the back, went upstairs and started the fire in one of the rooms,” Eastham said.
Late Tuesday night (10:30), it was reported to police that a brick was thrown into a window at a business along Robert Bush Drive. Eastham said the brick looked like one that could have come from the old print shop building.
A South Bend police officer called in the fire while he was on patrol and “saw the fogbank and could smell the smoke,” according to Eastham.
“It was a pretty good fire,” said Eastham, who was on the scene during the blaze. “It collapsed the roof and flames were jetting out the back of it. They got it under control pretty quick.”
The road was blocked from both directions and it was reopened about 2 a.m. The building is located near the north entrance to South Bend on Highway 101.
There were no injuries and the fire is still under investigation.
The building used to be a print shop and was closed down in the late 1980s, Eastham estimated. Local residents commonly referred to the building as “the print shop”.
“It used to be the local print shop,” Eastham said. “The building was mostly cleared out. There was some furniture and an old safe in there. I’d say it was functional as a business in the late eighties.”
Eastham said the building is one of the oldest buildings in South Bend. “It is very old.”
Approximately 15 firefighters were on the scene along with three fire trucks.