WHITING | Subzero temperatures Tuesday morning hampered firefighters' efforts to battle a blaze at a home in Whiting.
The water they sprayed quickly froze on the house, adjacent trees, fire hoses and firefighters' uniforms.
Firefighters from Whiting and East Chicago were called to 1938 Indianapolis Blvd. shortly before 10 a.m. and remained on scene past 11 a.m.
Martina Mirelez said her husband, Markos Mirelez, got home from work at UPS, was tired from a long night of work and fell into a deep sleep, forgetting a pot of chicken boiling on the stove.
"He slept through the smoke and the fire alarms and everything," she said.
An employee of a Walgreen's store across the street noticed smoke coming from the home, but was not able to leave her post. The woman told a Coca-Cola delivery man, who ran across the street and started pounding on the door to the Mirelezes' home.
Markos Mirelez escaped unharmed. His wife said she was at work for a contractor at BP's Whiting Refinery when she received a call that her house was on fire.
The building appeared to be a total loss.
The family was being assisted by the city's warming shelter at the Whiting Community Center, North Township and Aftermath Relief. Martina Mirelez said the American Red Cross was in the process of finding a hotel room for her and her husband, who were the sole residents of the home.
In spite of the loss of her home, Martina Mirelez was in good spirits Tuesday afternoon.
"I'm just grateful nobody got hurt," she said. "Things we can replace, but not people."