Chesterton Tribune



Porter home explodes; child rescued from rubble

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The investigation 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.

The explosion 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.

Three 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.

Meanwhile, the 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.

Assisting the 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.”


Posted 9/11/2020




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