Chesterton Tribune

Fire destroys Liberty Township residence

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No one was injured on Wednesday in a fire which destroyed a Liberty Township home in the 200 block of Northwind Drive.

According to the Porter County Sheriff’s Police, at around 10:43 a.m. a neighbor across the street observed smoke pouring from the home, tried to check for people still inside but found the front door locked, and then noticed flames through the open front windows.

The homeowners subsequently arrived at the scene and confirmed that no one was inside, police said.

The blaze possibly started after a desk-lamp fell onto the floor in a bedroom near a mattress, around 5:45 a.m., one of the homeowners advised police. “The lamp fell on some newspapers, which didn’t catch on fire, but were smoking and smoldering. She sprayed water on the papers, moved the lamp into the garage, and threw the papers outside. She just wasn’t able to remove the papers that were melted onto the mattress but didn’t observe any more smoke or burning. (She) then left her residence at approximately 8 a.m.”

Police said that the home was fully engulfed on the first responder’s arrival at the scene.

Brian Duncan, chief of the Liberty Township Volunteer Fire Department, told the Chesterton Tribune today that his investigators have not been able to confirm—or otherwise to rule out—the desk-lamp as the possible cause of the fire. He did say that the bedroom in which the desk lamp fell to the ground was fully involved on firefighters’ arrival.

Duncan noted that a lack of a nearby fire hydrant hampered efforts to douse the blaze. A tanker relay was established—with tankers from LTVFD, Chesterton, Burns Harbor, South Haven, and Washington Township departments—to tap a hydrant located on U.S. Highway 6, something like half a mile from the scene.

As near as Duncan was able to calculate, around 60,000 gallons of water were used to douse the blaze.

“We couldn’t use an aerial because there was no hydrant to supply it with water,” Duncan added. “So we mostly tried to keep it cool while it burned itself out.”

“We had a crew inside the house for a short time but we had to get them out because the roof was fully involved,” Duncan noted. “Then we went to a defensive attack. IT was too dangerous for a crew to be working inside.

High winds were blowing embers about as well, Duncan also said, and firefighters had to keep an eye on possible extension to a nearby home.

Duncan estimated damage to the house alone at between $250,000 and $300,000. He was unable to estimate damage to contents. The home was a total loss.

Also on the scene were the Porter and Portage fire departments.




Posted 6/17/2011