Chesterton Tribune

Fire destroys Liberty Township contractor workshop

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Fire—possibly caused by a lightning strike—destroyed an electrical contractor’s workshop at 165 W. U.S. Highway 6 this morning, the Liberty Township Volunteer Fire Department said.

Assistant Fire Chief Tom Shapen told the Chesterton Tribune today that neighbors reported the fire at 4:05 a.m., after “seeing and hearing a very close lightning strike.”

But the block-constructed building burned “very, very quickly,” Shapen said, and was completely involved on firefighters’ arrival. “The roof had fallen in when we pulled up.”

Assisting at the scene were the Chesterton and South Haven fire departments, each of which provided an engine and manpower. Also responding: Porter EMS. “They were a great help as always,” Shapen said.

No one was injured in the blaze.

An estimated 20,000 gallons of water were used to extinguish the fire, provided by a hydrant on the south side of U.S. 6. Shapen noted that it was necessary to close U.S. 6—“for just less than two hours”—to protect the hoses strung across the roadway. The Porter County Sheriff’s Police was on the scene to control traffic.

The building itself was approximately 30’ by 30’, Shapen said, and was used to store the contractor’s tools, supplies, and vehicles. There were the usual assortment of oils and solvents and also insulated wire and possibly oxygen acetylene gear.

“It’s a definite probability that it was lightning,” Shapen said. “I can’t say with certainty that lightning was the cause. But we did have a lot of it.”

“Everybody did get wet,” Shapen added. “But the downpour helped us. It was no fun to work in. But it helped us.”

The LTVFD cleared the scene at 8:47 p.m.

As it happens, the fire this morning was the seventh call to which the LTVFD responded over night. Others included downed wires, a minor accident, and a 90-minute call at the new Porter Regional Hospital work site, which was experiencing an alarm problem, Shapen said.


Posted 7/19/2012