A Waldron Lake family was left homeless after a fire destroyed their residence early Friday.
Weather and access problems hampered firefighters, who were called to the Dennis and Jane McClelland residence at 9936 N Eagle Island Road just after 1:30 a.m. The McClellands and their two children were home when the blaze broke out, but managed to escape without injury. Red Cross workers were called in to assist the family.
The cause of the fire remains undetermined, and is being investigated by the Orange Township Fire Department and Indiana Department of Homeland Security fire marshals. Firefighters arrived at the scene to discover much of the two story wood frame home already engulfed in flames.
The home was on a peninsula on the north side of Waldron Lake, but firefighters were unable to get water pumps to the frozen lake because of steep terrain. They were forced to shuttle water by tanker truck, but only one narrow lake road accesses the area, which led to traffic congestion as half a dozen tankers tried to maneuver back and forth.
Water splashing from the trucks left frozen areas across local roads, increasing the difficulties for tanker drivers. Workers for the State Highway, Noble County Highway, and Rome City Street departments were called out to salt and sand the roadways.
Local thermometers registered around minus 2 degrees at the time of the fire. The official temperature was 7 degrees, with a wind chill factor close to 20 below. Extra crews of firefighters were brought in, to fight against hypothermia and frostbite.
Noble REMC linemen responded to cut power to the home. In addition, a Noble County EMS unit stood by as a precaution, but no firefighters were injured.
Despite a response of over a dozen trucks, firefighters were unable to save the gutted residence. They spent twelve hours dousing the smoldering debris and investigating the fire's cause, and Orange Township firefighters were called back to the scene Friday evening to extinguish a rekindle.
Firefighters from the Orange Township, Albion, Johnson Township, and Kendallville Fire Departments worked at the fire scene, while the Avilla Fire Department provided standby coverage.