Chesterton Tribune



Liberty man injured in house fire late Thursday

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The owner of a home in Liberty Township’s Long Lake neighborhood was injured on Thursday in a fire which significantly damaged his residence, the Liberty Township Volunteer Fire Department said.

LTVFD Assistant Chief Tom Shapen told the Chesterton Tribune after deadline on Friday that the call initially came in, at approximately 10 p.m., as a structure fire caused by a vehicle’s striking a home in the 600 north block of C.R. 90E. That report proved to be false, Shapen said, insofar as the vehicle in question was simply parked close to the home. But both the vehicle and the residence were fully involved on firefighters’ arrival.

Assisted by the South Haven and Washington Township departments, LTVFD firefighters established an interior attack but soon had to abandon it, after Shapen declared it a “defensive” fire, owing to a “heavy fire load” which had developed “very rapidly.”

“We had to fight it outside,” Shapen said. “It wasn’t safe to go inside.”

Meanwhile, because the nearest hydrant is located some 900 feet from the residence--making the process to establish a water supply a “lengthy” one--Shapen called a tanker plan, enlisting the assistance of the Chesterton and Westville FDs.

A further complication was the presence in the neighborhood--consisting of small lots “crammed together on very narrow streets”--of overhead power lines, which Shapen said hampered the movement of vehicles. In the end NIPSCO “cut the power to part of the neighborhood for a few hours.”

Injured in the blaze was the homeowner, although Shapen was unable to say to what extent he was hurt. The man was, however, treated at the scene by EMS personnel from Porter Regional Hospital.

Some 20,000 gallons of water were used to douse the fire and then an extensive overhaul was done, partly necessitated by an area of dead space between the home’s original flat roof and a subsequent roof addition. “That posed a major challenge,” Shapen said.

The cause of the fire remains undetermined and under investigation, Shapen noted, and the Porter County Fire Investigation Strike Team was on the scene early Friday morning.

Shapen estimated total damage to structure and contents at $250,000.

Shapen took a moment to praise and thank the South Haven, Washington, Chesterton, and Westville departments for their assistance at the scene. “All of our crews really stepped up,” he said. “There was excellent cooperation and great help from all mutual-aid companies.”


Posted 11/25/2013