A fire that started in the utility room of a Wawaka home damaged the residence Thursday afternoon, but no one was injured.
The blaze was discovered in the home of Marjorie Kinnison at 7506 N Albion Street, at around 12:53 p.m. A resident who was home at the time reportedly discovered the fire in a utility room and tried to put it out with a fire extinguisher, but was unable to. Everyone evacuated safely as flames engulfed the utility room, at the rear of the one story wood frame home.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but it's believed to be of accidental origin.
Firefighters found flames spreading from the utility room into the kitchen and attic area, and outside onto the eaves of the home. By entering through the front door, they were able to push the flames from the unburned area, and the blaze was placed under control after less than forty minutes.
Flames impinged on a propane tank that was positioned outside by the utility room, and also threatened a nearby garage, but firefighters shut off the gas supply and cooled the tank down before it could explode. In addition, a thirty foot camper trailer was parked behind the house and endangered, but was moved away just as firefighters arrived.
Also, NIPSCO utility crews shut off electricity to the house. No injuries were reported.
Fire units remained on scene until about 3:30 p.m., while firefighters searched out and doused hot spots. Trucks responded from the Albion, Ligonier, and Orange Township Fire Departments, along with a Noble County EMS unit. Water tankers shuttled water to the scene from Fricks Farm Services nearby. The Johnson Township, Topeka, Cromwell, Avilla, and Noble Township Fire Departments were placed on standby as a precaution.
In one of my novels, I have a very Mary-Suish minor character named Rich. He only appears in a few scenes, but the running joke is that he's a volunteer firefighter who has a reputation for ceilings falling on his head. Well, you know how life imitates art ...
This is the utility add-on, at the back of the house. Just between you and me, the fire appears to have an electrical origin, somewhere in the utility room.
The fire spread from there into the kitchen -- you can see the kitchen windows here -- and into the attic area above the kitchen. I was on the hoseline in the kitchen when I called for someone to pull the ceiling, because I'd seen fire spreading up the walls and figured it had to be in the attic area. It was, and the second hose crew got excited about putting water on it. Unfortunately, the water stream rebounded off the roof and onto a plaster ceiling loaded with blown in insulation, all of which gets heavy when wet. I was directly below that very same ceiling.
Yeah, this ceiling. Where's the rest of it? On my head.
Taken from the basement. Just past Shawn Jacob is where I was kneeling when the ceiling became the floor; the light you can see beyond that is a window of the utility room.
Fire also spreads down. In this picture, which was taken from the top of the stairs looking down into the basement, you can make out some containers of various explosive/poisonous objects that most people would have in their homes. We hit the fire just as it was starting to extend downward -- basement fires are no fun.
Looks a little melty, huh? It was about 2/3 of the way up the wall, by the front door where we entered -- which is across the room from the kitchen. There was no fire in this room, although it was clearly getting hot enough to flash over. The runny look on the wall is from when our water stream turned to steam and collected on the soot. None of this could be seen when we first entered, but I could feel the heat through my protective hood.
There's no hydrant nearby. These guys are draining a dump tank, which is carried on the side of a tanker. We drop the dump tank and empty the tanker's water into it, so the tanker can go back for another load while the pumper drafts from the dump tank.
And finally: Me. I didn't think to get this picture (okay, this one I didn't take) until after they'd used an air line to blow the insulation off. That gear is supposed to be all black. The red thing is a flashlight, and on the left side of my chest is a very dirty portable radio. The red poking through at my neck is the sweatshirt I wore beneath my gear, and around my neck is the hood that protected my neck and ears. Without the hood I'd have gotten burned, this time around. The bulging pockets? Fire gloves, leather extrication gloves, a Leatherman all-purpose tool, 50 feet of self rescue rope, and wedges to prop doors open.