In an event rarely remembered by locals, the Ogden Dunes Fire Department was called upon twice within a 12 hour period of time for structure fires in different parts of their community over the 2004 Christmas Holiday season.
The first fire occurred late on the afternoon of December 26, when a report of a fire at 24 Sunset Trail was received. Firefighters responded rapidly to find fire venting through the roof of a two story home who's owner was out of town for the holidays. Due to the weather conditions, assistance was received from the City of Portage and Town of Burns Harbor Fire Departments before the stubborn fire was finally put out. FIST was activated to assist Ogden Dunes investigators in determining the cause of the blaze, which was attributed to a faulty light fixture above the bed in a basement bedroom of the structure.
The Ogden Dunes firefighters had barely gotten their apparatus cleaned and back into service when another structure fire at 5 Turrent Road was reported. As with the first fire, assistance was requested from both Portage and Burns Harbor departments due to the adverse weather conditions and location. This second fire completely destroyed a detached garage and two vehicles, as well as many musical instruments that were inside the garage. FIST was again activated to assist in the investigation, but due to the extensive damage, no specific cause of the fire could be determined.
In the above photograph FIST Technician Roy Adams (left), Investigator & Team Director Jim Branham (center) and Investigator Alfred Jones (right) are seen removing debris from the doorway of the garage at 5 Turrent Road.
(Photograph by Investigator Kelly Dziepak)
A deliberately set fire, fanned by high winds, destroyed four mobile homes in the Meadowview Mobile Home Park in South Haven, Indiana on the evening of March 5, 2004.
The Porter County 911 center received the call at 19:15 hours, and upon arrival of the first South Haven engine company four minutes later, three of the four homes were already involved. The homes were located in a storage area of the park approximately 600' away from the closest paved roadway which hindered firefighting operations for the South Haven department. Before the fire was brought under control, a fourth mobile home would also be damaged beyond repair.
Four members of Porter County FIST, who are also members of the South Haven department, were present for the initial alarm and conducted the preliminary investigation. It was determined that circumstances were present that indicated that the fire was not accidental.
On Monday, March 8, an accelerant detection K-9 from the Lake County Sheriff's Department was brought to the scene to assist in the investigation. The K-9 alerted to the presence of ignitable liquids in five distinct areas of the structure furthest to the north in the line of mobile homes. The following day, an investigator from the Office of the State Fire Marshal took samples from each area for further laboratory analysis.
Even though the dollar amount from this fire was minimal (the structures were unoccupied at the time of the fire) the deliberate nature of the fire in the crowded mobile home park is being taken very seriously. A reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of those responsible has been offered.
(Photograph by FIST Investigator Alfred Jones)
On the afternoon of Sunday, February 15, 2004 a fire was reported in a Hebron, Indiana church just after completion of the morning worship service.
Due to the extremely cold weather and several frozen hydrants, the Hebron Fire Department required mutual aid from Boone Grove, Four Seasons, Kouts, Lake Eliza, Morgan Township, Washington Township (all of Porter County), Lowell and Crown Point (Lake County) and Keener Township (Jasper County) before the blaze was brought under control. Unfortunately the metal building was all but destroyed by the blaze.
A joint investigation conducted the following day by the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Porter County FIST Team determined that the fire was of an accidental nature. The fire has been attributed to combustible materials being stored to close to a hot water heater.
Members of the congregation plan to rebuild their church on the current site as soon as possible.
(Photograph by FIST Investigator Kelly Dziepak)
On June 3, 2003 Porter County FIST received this letter of commendation from LaPorte City Fire Chief Greg Smith.