Fire destroys several homes near West Lafayette, Indiana, US
The West Lafayette Fire Department in Indiana, US, says five homes were heavily damaged by fire in the Lindberg Village neighbourhood on Friday, 12 July 2019. Fortunately, only two of the homes were occupied at the time of the fires. A man and his baby daughter were in one of the homes. Two doors down, a teenager was saved by a neighbour knocking on the door. Fire fighters aren't sure how the fire started, let alone in which home it broke out. "I mean, you know, houses are built close together. New construction homes are built differently. There are a lot of things that...and to try to pin it down right now without doing an investigation would be incredibly difficult," said Wabash Township Fire Chief Ed Ward.
Investigators still don't know what caused a fire that ripped through the neighbourhood destroying five homes and damaging three others. But Wabash Township Fire Chief Ed Ward said it wasn't natural gas. Ward said what may have sounded like explosions were likely propane tanks catching fire. He said Vectren Energy and investigators with the State Fire Marshal spent Monday testing gas lines and found no evidence of a gas leak. They've determined the fire started in house now fenced off. The new owner had just closed on the house and had begun moving belongings in Friday morning.
As for why the fire spread so quickly? Ward said the first 911 calls didn't come until three homes were engulfed in flames. He also cited the close proximity of homes and radiant heat.
Fortunately, no one was hurt in the fire. Trevor Landrum, who lives next to one of the damaged houses, is still stunned at what happened. He was working in his office upstairs when he heard a commotion and came outside. "The heat just hit you like a punch in the face, just everything was on fire," he said. Three days later Landrum was praising the amount of support he's received. "The outpouring of support from the homeowners association (HSA), residents and community been pretty inspiring," he said.
Natalie Moore, who works with the HSA, was walking the neighbourhood to make sure everyone is safe and had what they needed. The HSA raised more than $11 000 through a crowd-sourcing campaign to help the homeowners impacted by the fire. Moore stopped to talk to Brenda Ackerman whose house was damaged and still without power. She gave her several gift cards to help her buy groceries or other items she needed. Ackerman got choked up when asked about the community's response. "It's overwhelming," she said. "I'm just very grateful, very grateful."
Ten-year-old Maelynn Cornman and her 12-year-old brother RJ were doing their part as well. "It just makes you think, 'wow, what if we were there?' (Our house) and all of its gone, just gone," Maelynn said. She and her brother, with help from their stepdad, put a sign and bucket in the street to raise money, hoping the "the gawkers," as RJ calls them would donate. Gawkers are the people who have been driving through the neighbourhood to see what's left of the homes. He said there were many of them over the weekend with Mealynn chiming in, "We got $300 in six hours. Imagine how much more we can get for the entire day to buy groceries, get hotel rooms, the essentials they need."
Several drivers who stopped to drop money in the bucket were residents of the neighbourhood.