Logan had a heart transplant when he was only a few weeks old. He made it, and grew into a normal, inquisitive, mischievous young boy. Now he's laid out with his cowboy hat, gun belt and toy six-gun, his casket surrounded by stuffed animals and toy fire trucks. Oh, and crying firefighters.
Logan came up to the fire station whenever he could. He'd constantly ask his dad, and the other firefighters, if they fought a fire that day. He wanted to be a firefighter, but his dream was cut short.
Next time you see them, hug your kids. Hug them a lot.
Logan would have loved to hear us talk about this:
Fire Thursday night destroyed a Rome City restaurant and damaged two other buildings.
Stag’s Sport Lounge and Restaurant was demolished by a fire discovered just before 10 p.m. Flames had already broken through the roof of the two story wood frame structure when a Rome City Police officer arrived, just minutes after the first 911 call came in. The building was unoccupied at the time, and the last worker had reportedly left about an hour before.
The cause of the fire wasn’t certain, and remained under investigation by the Orange Township Fire Department and the State Fire Marshal’s Office. A damage estimate for the building, which was reportedly one of the oldest in town and had survived similar fires nearby in the past, wasn’t available.
Within minutes of the initial dispatch, Orange Township firefighters called for a full response of trucks from the Johnson Township Fire Department in Wolcottville, then for the nearest aerial ladder truck, at the Kendallville Fire Department. It was the beginning of a series of calls that resulted in an estimated 100 firefighters, manning over 20 trucks, responding from 14 different fire departments.
A family had to be evacuated from an apartment in a neighboring building, but no injuries were reported during the incident.
Firefighters were hampered by downed power lines, and below freezing weather. Ice clogged some water hoses. The Town of Rome City doesn’t have its own water system, so water had to be shuttled by truck from nearby Sylvan Lake. Over a dozen fire department water tankers were called in from across the area; every fire department in Noble County, most of those from LaGrange County and the Helmer Fire Department from Steuben County supplied tankers and manpower to the scene.
Jim Abbs of the Orange Township Fire Department credited the Kendallville Fire Department’s platform ladder truck with helping to control the blaze. With the structure engulfed in flames and rapidly weakening, the elevated water stream from the ladder truck was one of the few ways to safely spray water into the building.
Firefighters had to work fast to keep from losing a block of buildings to the flames. Bayside Reality, just a few feet east, was threatened by radiant heat and wind blown brands and suffered extensive damage, with fire briefly spreading to its roof. Just as close, to the west, a building that once housed TLC Gymnastics and an apartment was damaged.
It took about three hours to control the fire, and a back hoe had to be brought in to demolish part of the severely weakened structure. Firefighters were called back twice Friday to knock down rekindles.
Part of SR 9, which runs just east of Stag’s, and Front Street had to be closed down during the incident. Officers of the Rome City Marshal’s Office, Noble County Sheriff’s Department and Indiana State Police assisted with traffic control, while State Highway and Rome City Street Department trucks came out to sand down pavement made slippery by the constant shuttling of water tankers.
Also responding to the scene were workers for NIPSCO utilities and the Red Cross. Noble County Co Op sent a tanker to refuel fire trucks at the scene.
Fire units responded from the Albion, Avilla, Cromwell, Johnson Township, Kendallville, LaOtto, Ligonier, Noble Township, Orange Township, LaGrange, Milford, Stroh, Topeka, and Helmer fire departments. Members of the Garrett and Thorn Creek fire departments responded standby coverage during the six hours firefighters worked at the incident.