Chesterton Tribune



Lightning blamed for West Indiana attic fire

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The Chesterton Fire Department is attributing the likely cause of an attic fire at 415 W. Indiana Ave. on Sunday morning to a lightning strike.

No one was injured in the fire and the sole occupant of the home succeeded in safely evacuating on waking to an activated smoke detector. At the same time, Chesterton Police officers were forcing entry to the home after seeing smoke pouring from the roof.

Lt. Brandon Smith told the Chesterton Tribune today that the CFD responded to scene at 8:10 a.m., only 15 minutes after firefighters--at the station--heard a “very close” boom of thunder. Smith noted that the house’s power line had been pulled out of the weatherhead, that the home was without electrical service at the time of the fire, and nothing else in the attic could have ignited it.

“I’m putting it as weather-related,” Smith said. Still, there were no obvious signs of a lightning strike--no melted metal, for instance--and were it not for the fact that firefighters actually heard the thunder clap accompanying a lightning strike just blocks away, in all probability the cause of the fire would have remained undetermined, he added.

Smith himself made initial entry to the home, where he found no smoke either on the first or second floors. He then entered the attic, where he observed “a good fire going” on the north side, facing West Indiana Ave. There Smith handled the hose and flowed around 1,000 gallons to douse the blaze. He told the Tribune that in fact the lightning strike appears to have ignited some of the contents of the attic, because none of the actual structural members of the roof were burning.

The Porter FD--which responded to the scene along with the Liberty Township Volunteer FD--was forced to cut a hole in the roof for ventilation, Smith said. “There was no way to get the heat out of the attic without cutting a hole.” Firefighters were also forced to perform overhaul on the second-floor ceiling to check for extension, leading to water damage on the second floor.

Smith estimated total damage to structure and contents at $50,000.

The CFD cleared the scene at 10:23 a.m.


Posted 8/19/2019




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