MISHAWAKA -- The twisted, steel remains of the old RMG Foundry building still loom over the Mishawaka fire station on Union Street.
The site of the old Dodge Manufacturing plant went up in flames Feb. 11, but fire investigators were first able to enter the structure Monday, beginning a quest to finally determine the cause of the fire.
Fire crews did initial assessments after the blaze, but the building was not deemed safe enough to enter for several weeks.
"It's a slow, slow process," fire investigator Steve Gregg said, standing outside the ruins of the building on Monday.
The blaze, which could be seen for miles and attracted dozens of onlookers from nearby neighborhoods, nearly leveled the building on Union Street, near downtown Mishawaka.
Gregg said investigators have begun to familiarize themselves with the scene, but have not yet determined a cause, or even where the fire originated.
Investigators from insurance companies also entered the facility Monday, launching their own probe, Gregg said.
The building, which used to be the steel shop in the Dodge factory, stored cars, boats and RVs.
Officials estimated last month that 200 to 250 vehicles were in the building when it burned.
On Tuesday, Gregg said, crews will start digging through the debris that fell to the ground in search of the origin of the fire.
Investigators likely will be at the site all week, and the process could be slowed if it snows, Gregg said.
The area is currently under a winter storm warning, through Wednesday morning.
The destruction of the old plant hit some locals hard, as the factory was once a major employer and driving economic force in the region.
Many spoke nostalgically after the fire about the factory culture and steady work during the company's heyday.
Two brothers first founded Dodge in 1878, under the name of Magic Jack Co. Though most often recalled as Dodge, the company would be known by several names before it finally shut its doors in 2006.
Staff writer Madeline Buckley: