Fire in New Castle street operations building causes millions of dollars of damage

NEW CASTLE, Ind. (WISH) — A fire reduced New Castle’s street operations to rubble.

Garbage trucks are gone. Potholes can’t be filled for now.

Nobody was hurt, but New Castle is struggling to figure out how it’s going to provide street operations.

“It’s been devastating,” Mayor Greg York said. “We lost the whole building. It’s laying on the ground. We lost our whole fleet so we’re going to be starting from scratch.”

York says the estimated loss, which is expected to be in the millions of dollars, is still being calculated. A single garbage truck costs around $360,000 and the city lost three of those plus a bunch of other equipment, the mayor said.

“We’ll have to rent some vehicles,” York said. “Right off the bat, we’ll have to certainly try to lease some equipment until we can get built back up again. Hopefully, we don’t have a snow blizzard next week that we won’t need our salt trucks, but with the way 2020’s going, I can’t guarantee anything!”

For now, Muncie, Indianapolis and other nearby cities are lending New Castle some equipment and doing garbage pickup in an outdated truck. For this, New Castle officials are asking their 17,100 residents to be patient as the city tries to get everything back on track.

“We may be a few hours late. We may be a couple days late, but we’ll get all the trash picked up, and just be a little patient with us at this point in time,” York said.

The mayor says the city will be setting up in another building and will rebuild and get back on track. When the building gets rebuilt, some improvements may be made.

“This building is probably 40, 45 years old,” York said. “So I think with the size of the building, I’m sure there will be a sprinkler system in the new building. A sprinkler system would be a good place to start.”

An official cause for the fire has not been released, but the mayor says investigators suspect the blaze was caused by an electrical issue with one of its garbage trucks. York says the damage and rebuilding isn’t going to have any impact on taxes.