continued today into the cause of an explosion which destroyed a home in the
400 block of North First Street in Porter.
A 3-year-old girl
and an adult woman were both trapped in the rubble but rescued by neighbors
and police officers, Fire Chief Jay Craig told the Chesterton Tribune
this morning. The child was subsequently airlifted from the scene to Comer
Children’s Hospital in Chicago.
occurred at 4:32 p.m. and brought the whole of the single-story ranch down,
with only the chimney still standing, Craig said. The ground-zero of the
explosion had not yet been determined at deadline today, nor the cause of
it, although it’s possible there was a natural-gas leak. “But nothing’s been
confirmed,” Craig emphasized.
Seven people were
in the house at the time: six adults and the girl, who Craig said was
entrapped in the “center” of the house, actual room unknown. On
firefighters’ arrival, neighbors and police officers were already sifting
through the debris to rescue both the girl and the woman, the latter of whom
was found in the southwest corner of the house.
air-ambulances were requested, Craig said. Two arrived, landing on East
Hjelm Road. Only one was needed, to transport the girl to Comer Children’s.
Her condition was unknown this morning, Craig said.
The other six
adults, including the woman who was trapped, were transported by ambulance
to Porter Regional Hospital and Franciscan Health Michigan City.
explosion ignited a significant fire at the rear of the house, which was
being fed by the rush of natural gas from a line severed at the meter, Craig
said. Firefighters were unable completely to extinguish the blaze until a
NIPSCO crew arrived on scene to shut off the gas. In the end firefighters
used fully 46,000 gallons of water, transported to the scene by tankers from
two different hydrants: one at U.S. Highway 20 and Tremont Road; the other
at Waverly Road and Summertree Drive.
The Porter FD
didn’t clear the scene until midnight.
Craig was unable to
estimate the monetary loss, beyond saying that the structure and all
contents were destroyed. He was meeting with the State Fire Marshal this
afternoon at the scene to continue the investigation.
Porter FD at the scene were the Chesterton, Burns Harbor, Liberty Township
Volunteer, Beverly Shores, Pines, Portage, Ogden Dunes, Union Township, and
Washington Township FDs. Also responding were numerous law enforcement
agencies, including “officers I’ve never seen before and have no idea who
they were,” Craig noted.
“It was a huge
collaborative effort between bystanders and first-responders, who were
responsible for saving the woman and baby,” Craig said. “A special thanks to
the Portage Fire Department who supplied us with fire investigators.”
Capt. John Lane of
the Porter Police Department had these thoughts on the response. “Of note,
neighbors came to the assistance of the homeowners and, in one case I am
aware of, neighbor John Markos entered the house on fire and was able to get
an injured woman out of the residence,” he said. “Another neighbor from the
other side of 49--I’m sorry, I don’t have his name--drove to the area after
hearing the explosion and also assisted in searching and getting people to
safety. Could anyone paint a better image of Porter, Ind., and what its
residents represent? Incredible people and a true spirit of altruism as they
came to the aid of neighbors.”