For explanation, the article I wrote for the Albion paper:
A Saturday night fire destroyed a landmark home west of Albion.
The large, two story house, known as the Stonewall Farm, caught fire at about 6:15 p.m., and was gutted despite the efforts of several area fire departments. Members of the Don Wolfe family, who rented the residence, were reportedly home at the time the fire broke out, but were able to escape without injury. The property, at Albion Road and CR 290W, is owned by Dr. William Fitzkee of Albion.
The fire is believed to have started on the second floor, and apparently burned for some time before it was discovered. The cause wasn’t immediately certain, but was believed to be accidental.
One firefighter was hurt when he fell during the operation; he was treated at Parkview Noble Hospital in Kendallville, and later released.
The fire was reported at 6:16 p.m. At the time Christine Wolfe and her son were reportedly in the home, and discovered the upstairs engulfed in flames as they made their escape. By the time nearby police officers arrived, the flames had burned through the wooden structure’s roof, and shortly after Albion firefighters began attacking the blaze parts of the second floor collapsed into the first floor.
The building was of balloon frame construction, a no longer used construction method that allowed flames to spread easily through concealed spaces and attack the structural supports. That made conditions too dangerous for firefighters to enter most of the residence, although they were able to retrieve some personal property.
They were also able to protect four vehicles, a motorcycle and three cars, parked inside an attached garage. Firefighters pushed the motorcycle outside, and Duane Leatherman brought a wrecker out to remove the cars.
With the building badly weakened, and a great deal of smoldering fire that firefighters couldn’t safely reach, heavy equipment was called in to tear down the remaining structure. Jack Owen of Owen’s Excavating brought equipment in to do that job, and the pile of debris that remained was allowed to burn overnight.
Firefighters were hampered by low temperatures, slippery conditions and falling snow, and had to bring in Noble County Highway personnel to apply sand to icy roadways. They also had to use caution in approaching the house because of live electric lines that were threatening to burn through; the power was shut off by Noble REMC linemen.
Several requests were made for manpower, water tankers and other equipment from neighboring communities, bringing units from departments including Avilla, Cromwell, Johnson Township, Kendallville, Ligonier, Noble Township, Orange Township, and Topeka. Several other fire departments were involved in providing standby coverage to Noble County. Two dozen Albion firefighters responded, manning five trucks, and remained on the scene for about six and a half hours.
All in all, not a fun night.