A discarded cigarette is believed to be the cause of a fire that damaged a rural Albion garage Friday afternoon.
A neighbor passing by reportedly discovered the blaze in a home at 4860 N 150 E just before 1 p.m., according to the Noble County Sheriff's Department. A cigarette apparently set fire to a plastic water softener that was outside near a corner of the two story building, which had been partially converted into apartments. Flames spread up the corner of the building and then up the roof line to the attic peak. The owner, Dave Christlieb, reportedly tried to control the fire with a garden hose, and a short time later Albion firefighters arrived and extinguished fire still burning in the attic area.
The blaze was brought under control in about 20 minutes, but firefighters were on the scene for over an hour, checking for fire extension with a thermal imaging camera and dousing smoldering embers. No injuries were reported; only a dog was inside when the fire broke out, and it escaped safely.
An estimated $5,000 damage was done to the building, mostly to vinyl siding and an area of wall.
Twelve Albion firefighters manning five trucks responded, assisted by the Noble County Sheriff's Department, Albion Police, and Noble County EMS.