LAPORTE COUNTY | A LaPorte area woman collapsed outside her burning home after trying to rescue her pets.
The 49-year-old woman begged rescuers to save her dog and cat before she was taken to the hospital, but the rescuers initially were driven back by the smoke and flames.
Eventually, firefighters made their way inside and found the large, black mixed-breed dog very much alive.
"He was scared, of course, but he was curled up on his favorite couch," said Pleasant Township Fire Chief Phillip Bluhm.
Bluhm said the cat was never found.
Sandra Aguilar was treated at IU Health LaPorte Hospital for smoke inhalation and later admitted.
Emergency responders found Aguilar about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday lying in her driveway unable to get up outside her two-story farmhouse at 4301 S. 300 East, according to reports.
Bluhm said it appears a space heater overloaded a circuit judging by circuit breakers getting tripped several times. That caused some electrical wires to overheat.
He said the family had been using the space heater for the past couple of days after running out of propane, which fueled the furnace.
Space heaters, especially in older homes, though, often draw more amperage than the circuits can handle if other electrical appliances are plugged into them, fire officials said.
The fire started in the middle of an addition put on the home about 30 years or more ago.
Bluhm said the home was a total loss with parts of the structure collapsing.