EAST CHICAGO | The cause of a New Year's Day apartment building fire that displaced 21 people likely will not be determined until later this week, a fire official said Wednesday.
Chief Inspector Henry Ventura said the results of the investigation may be available on Friday.
East Chicago firefighters were called to 4852 Northcote Ave. Tuesday afternoon and found fire on the first floor and heavy smoke throughout the two-story building.
No residents were injured in the fire. Two firefighters were treated at St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago for back injuries.
Ventura said some of the families displaced by the fire came to the East Chicago Fire Department Wednesday morning seeking assistance. Ventura said he directed them to the North Township trustee's office.
North Township Trustee Frank Mrvan said Wednesday his office assisted four families with a total of 19 members, including children. Mrvan said the families assisted by the township lost everything in the fire and had no renter's insurance.
The trustee's office provided the residents with clothing vouchers, food for three to four days and shelter through a partnership with the Ramada Inn in Hammond.
Mrvan said his office also works with other local agencies to help find permanent homes for the families.
"Our goal is to get them back to some normalcy, especially with kids involved," Mrvan said. "We want to get them back to school and their normal routines."
Mrvan said donations of items for the families displaced by the fire will be accepted from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday at the East Chicago office of the North Township trustee's office, 2107 Broadway.
Other residents were assisted by the American Red Cross at the scene of the fire.