Chesterton Tribune



Allure on the Lake -- former Waterbird -- burns to the ground

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Aerial attack: Both the Chesterton Fire Department’s ladder truck, and the Valparaiso FD’s, were deployed early this morning to battle the blaze at The Allure on the Lake. The CFD’s alone flowed 80,000 gallons of water onto the fire. (Photo provided)

Total loss: Chesterton Deputy Fire Chief Nate Williams called The Allure on the Lake a “total loss” after fire roared through it early this morning. According to Williams, The Allure’s owner, Troy Clark, has estimated a loss in excess of $1 million. No one was injured in the blaze, which appears to have started after a manager left for the night after an event on Sunday. (Photo provided)



The Allure on the Lake, 526 Indian Boundary Road in the Indian Oak Mall--formerly, under previous ownership, the Waterbird banquet center--burned to the ground early this morning, in what Chesterton Deputy Fire Chief Nate Williams called a “total loss.”

No one was injured in the blaze, but Williams told the Chesterton Tribune that The Allure’s owner, Troy Clark, has estimated damage at more than $1 million.

The cause of the fire remains unknown but Williams said that investigators believe it to be accidental in nature. He also said that the call came in initially--incorrectly--as a “hotel fire,” which Williams speculated could account for this morning’s extensive Chicago media coverage of the blaze.

Capt. Rudy Jimenez, whose crew first-responded to the scene, said that the fire appears to have begun sometime between 12 a.m., when a manager closed the banquet center after an event, and 2:45 a.m., when Chesterton Police Officer Erik Palleson, on routine building patrol, spotted smoke “blowing through the roof” from his position across the street at Gelsosomo’s Pizzeria.

“It was already a pretty big fire on our arrival,” Jimenez said, with “fire through the roof and heavy involvement,” prompting the CFD to immediately assume a defensive posture. Multiple ground lines were run and engine deck guns deployed, supplied with water from three different hydrants in the area, while the CPD’s ladder truck undertook an aerial attack. By the time the fire was out, Jimenez added, the department’s ladder truck alone had flowed 80,000 gallons of water.

Assisting the CFD at the scene was the Valparaiso FD with its own ladder truck, which was also put into service, and the Porter, Burns Harbor, Liberty Township, Beverly Shores, Town of Pines, Portage, South Haven, and Washington Township FDs.

By 7:40 a.m. firefighters were able to enter and search the building, confirming that it was empty, although Jimenez did say that firefighters could not yet access portions where the roof had collapsed. “We’ll be bringing in some heavy equipment today.”

Not only did the cause of the fire remain unknown this morning, Jimenez said. The place of origin did too. The best investigators could say before deadline is that it apparently started somewhere in the “center” of the building, where firefighters encountered “the biggest volume of fire.”

“It’s still too early to make that determination,” Jimenez said.

By 8 a.m. a representative both of the State Fire Marshal’s Office and of the Allure’s insurance company were at the scene, Williams told the Tribune.

While Clark put the loss at in excess of $1 million, Williams remarked that the sheer loss of revenue is likely to be “huge” as well. “There were bookings through the summer into the fall,” he said.

Williams also noted that there were no sprinklers installed in The Allure and that none was required under Clark’s building permit for a remodel.

In January 1990, Wayne Chubb, developer of the Indian Oak Mall, announced a $2-million expansion plan under which “The Waterbird”--a 400-seat waterside dining facility--would be built, along with the addition of 40 new hotels rooms in the nearby Indian Oak Inn, accessed by a glassed-in walkway. For years the Waterbird was a popular venue for local events, including Easter brunches, Chamber luncheons, and other fetes. Troy--who also owns The Allure in LaPorte--purchased the property several years ago from the Chubb family.


Posted 6/3/2019




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