Chesterton Tribune



Fire begins in RV engine then spreads to nearby home

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A fire which began in the engine compartment of an RV on Friday quickly spread into a residence next to which the RV had been parked, the Liberty Township Volunteer Fire Department said.

No one was injured in the fire, LTVFD Deputy Chief Tom Shapen told the Chesterton Tribune today, but the house sustained serious damage and the RV itself was destroyed.

The blaze started around 6:20 p.m., when the owner of a home in the 100 block of West U.S. Highway 6 started up his 32-foot bus-style RV for the first time this spring, igniting a fire in its engine compartment which almost immediately engulfed the RV’s highly flammable fiberglass shell, Shapen said. The RV, stored under a metal carport-like structure, had been backed up to the house to a distance of about six feet, and with the metal structure acting to funnel the flames out both of its open ends, the fire spread to and then into the house itself.

Smoke was visible on U.S. 6 as Shapen, the first firefighter on the scene, approached the residence, he said. Right behind Shapen was the LTVFD engine, and right behind that was the South Haven FD engine, and in the couple of minutes it took to make sure the homeowners had safely evacuated the residence and there were no other people or pets in the house, the fire had extended enough to prompt Shapen to activate a first alarm, mustering the Portage, Union Township, and Chesterton departments to the scene. The Porter FD, for its part, stood on standby for the duration at the LTVFD station.

Complicating the attack, Shapen noted, was the “limited access” to the scene which a narrow driveway in front and a steep drop-off in back afforded firefighters. Once the LTVFD engine had ascended the driveway, there was no following it, he said, so the decision was made to close U.S. 6 to give firefighters a little elbow room. “The other departments just parked their vehicles on U.S. 6 and then walked up the driveway.”

Simplifying matters a little, on the other hand, was a nearby hydrant, which obviated any need to organize a tanker shuttle, Shapen added. Approximately 8,000 to 10,000 gallons of water were used to extinguish the blaze.

Shapen was unable to provide any firm estimate of damage. Both the RV and the metal structure were destroyed, and although most of the fire damage to the home was confined to a bedroom, there was no little fire damage to the eaves and attic space, with heavy smoke damage throughout the residence as well.

Shapen did express his gratitude to the other departments for their assistance. “We had a good response from our neighbors, as we always do,” he said.

The LTVFD cleared the scene around 8:30 p.m.


Posted 5/9/2016





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