Mayor Thallemer Releases Statement On Warsaw Chemical Fire

Mayor Thallemer Press Release- The emergency response phase of the fire and chemical spill at Warsaw Chemical Company last Friday is complete. The Warsaw-Wayne Township Fire Territory, the Warsaw Police Department, Storm Water Utility, Street Department, and Wastewater Utility all converged on the scene of the fire within minutes of receiving the call. The Town of Winona Lake Fire and Police departments and Kosciusko County Emergency Management Director Ed Rock immediately assisted them. Fire Chief Mike Brubaker assumed incident command and made calls for District #2 resources including the Elkhart County Haz-Mat unit, Clay Township mobile incident command unit, the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and Indiana Department of Environmental Management. The Grace College Center for Lakes and Streams was also onsite. Environmental consultants from Warsaw Chemical were involved as well.

The response was swift but measured by this comprehensive emergency management team. Fire suppression and chemical containment was effectively managed with water, foam, and dry chemicals. The area was stabilized and isolated. IDEM and the DNR made the decision to close the dam on Winona Lake as a containment precaution. IDEM has, as of today, made the decision to reopen it. A boom was placed at the outflow on Winona Lake to help contain the spill. Aeration of the open water was also instituted to accelerate chemical breakdown and provide extra oxygen for wildlife. The DNR has ordered no activity on the ice until further notice. The cleanup and reopening of affected roads occurred following the response. As of this time, there have been no reports of loss of wildlife.

There were seven city employees and one Warsaw Chemical Company employee who were treated for irritations to the lungs and skin. They were all released from Kosciusko Community Hospital within hours of admittance.

The investigative phase of this incident, under the direction of the IDEM, began immediately as the emergency response was ending. Information gathered from Warsaw Chemical will assist investigators in determining the cause and origin of the fire. The inventory of “surviving” chemicals is currently underway. It will be compared with the inventory provided by Warsaw Chemical Co. to determine the quantities and specific chemicals involved in the spill.

The conclusion of the investigation will be released by the State Fire Marshal’s office. It is speculated to take at least a week for that information to be released.

The effects on Winona Lake are uncertain at this point. The information being gathered will be the basis of the IDEM managed remediation order to the Warsaw Chemical Company. Local storm water solutions will certainly be a part of that order. The Center for Lakes and Streams will also play an important role in the assessment.

The City of Warsaw places a high value on the health of our community and the natural resources we are entrusted with. The community must work together for solutions to insure our citizens and resources remain safe in the future.

Joe Thallemer


City of Warsaw