Firefighters saved a woman from her burning home on US 6 Thursday.
An Orange Township firefighter and Noble County EMS personnel happened to be passing by at the same time when they saw fire coming from the front door of a residence at 4574 E US 6 at about 12:26 p.m., according to the Noble County Sheriff's Department. With a front room engulfed in flames, smoke coming from the entire two story wood frame home, and no nearby water source, fire trucks from Albion, Kendallville and Orange Township were called to the scene.
While doing a routine search of the burning home, Kendallville firefighters Steve Trowbridge and Bob Edwards found a female victim in a downstairs room and pulled her outside. She was taken by Noble County EMS personnel to Parkview Noble Hospital, then airlifted to the St. Joe burn unit in Fort Wayne, where she was listed in critical condition with smoke inhalation.
The forty year old female hasn’t been identified; she was described by investigators as a friend of the owners, Dean and Jody Riecke.
The house sustained heavy fire and smoke damage, but even though they were occupied with saving the occupant, firefighters had the flames under control in about twenty minutes. Firefighters had to open up a wall above the front of the house to douse flames that were spreading inside the wall, toward the attic.
Officials are calling the fire suspicious, but its cause remains under investigation. Noble County Sheriff’s Department detectives and the State Fire Marshal’s Office were investigating.
Fire response was hampered because US 6 had to be completely closed for a time, leading to traffic that at one point was backed up all the way to Pizza Hut in Kendallville, about two miles away. Later the highway was opened to one lane, with police and firefighters guiding vehicles around the scene.
Dozens of firefighters from Albion, Kendallville, Orange Township, and the Johnson Township Fire Department worked at the scene, including four Albion fire trucks manned by eight personnel. Also assisting were two Noble County EMS units, the Noble County Sheriff's Department, Indiana State Police, Samaritan Helicopter, and Indiana Department of Transportation. Fire standby was provided by the Avilla, Churubusco, Corunna, and Garrett Fire Departments.
Units extinguishing the last of the fire and investigating its cause remained on the scene until almost 6 p.m.
Fire destroyed a Skinner Lake home early Thursday.
Heavy flames were already coming from the one story wood frame home at 2859 E Skinner Lake Drive N when a neighbor spotted the fire at about 5:49 a.m., according to the Noble County Sheriff’s Department. The roof collapsed near the middle of the home minutes after Albion firefighters arrived, forcing them to make a defensive attack on the flames. It took about half an hour to bring the fire under control.
The home, owned by Mike Mehrling of Kendallville, had reportedly been unoccupied for some time, and no injuries were reported. The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.
Six units responded to the call from the Albion Fire Department. They were joined by trucks and manpower from the Kendallville and Orange Township Fire Departments, and remained on the scene until about 8:30 a.m. The Noble County Sheriff’s Department, Albion Police, and Noble County EMS were also called to the scene.
It was a busy week for the Albion Fire Department, which answered four calls Thursday. Two of those were medical assists, and the last was to assist several other agencies at a house fire that injured a woman at 4574 E US 6.
Over the course of the week, Albion firefighters also responded to:
A fire that burned two pallets of waste material in a storage building at Parker Hannifen on North Orange Street, at about 10:27 a.m. Tuesday, July 27. Five fire trucks were on the scene for about an hour and a half; the fire did not spread to the building itself, but some smoke, heat, and structural damage resulted.
A fire called in the same day by a passer-by along US 6, near CR 200W. Because the type of fire was unknown, both the Albion and Orange Township Fire Departments were dispatched at 8:47 p.m., but the first firefighters arrived to find a small trash fire, which was quickly doused.
On Saturday Albion and Avilla firefighters responded to a report of a barn fire at 4426 E 200 S. The call apparently began with a power outage in the area, which caused a fire alarm in a horse barn owned by Walt Steffen. Workers at the farm quickly removed the animals from the building as a precaution, but the fire alarm itself was false, and little damage resulted. Five trucks responded after being paged out at 8:30 p.m., and all units were back in service within an hour.
In addition to those calls, Orange Township firefighters extinguished a car fire at 10212 N 125 W Thursday morning, and Avilla firefighters fought a car fire Friday morning on Ley Street in that town. Also, three wildland fires were reported over the weekend: One near Wolcottville at the Noble-LaGrange County line Friday; a small grass fire near the east junction of US 6 and SR 9 Saturday; and a brush fire Saturday near county roads 350 S and 825 W.