E.C. fire displaces 21 people

2013-01-01T19:33:00Z 2013-01-02T11:34:04Z E.C. fire displaces 21 peopleKeith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com
January 01, 2013 7:33 pm  • 

A Tuesday afternoon fire in an apartment building in East Chicago displaced 21 people, including about 10 children.

East Chicago firefighters received a call of a fire at 4852 Northcote Ave. a little after 3 p.m, said East Chicago District Chief Tom Boyle. They arrived at the long, two-story frame building to find a heavy fire burning on the first floor and smoke throughout.

It took firefighters about 20 minutes to bring the fire under control, Boyle said. But they worked longer to extinguish the last of it as the fire quickly spread within walls to the second floor and attic, Boyle said.

Two firefighters were later taken to St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago to be treated for back injuries, Boyle said.

The origin of the fire was a first-floor bedroom but a cause had not been determined as of Tuesday night, said East Chicago Fire Department Capt. Inspector Dennis Fanno.

Second-floor resident Tina Lewin was standing well back from the action in the freezing weather watching firefighters extinguish the last of the flames Tuesday afternoon while her grandchildren stayed warm in a van.

"I smelled smoke — it smelled like an electric fire — and I just said to my kids, 'Grab the kids,' she said.

Everyone, including her three grandchildren, escaped unhurt, she said.

"We lost everything," she said. "We have nothing now but what's on our bodies."

Some residents were later let in to retrieve belongings.

All residents home at the time of the fire escaped unhurt, Fanno said. Residents of the apartment building were later taken to Fire Station No. 5, where the Red Cross was working to get them places to say for the night.

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