PORTAGE | Firefighters are investigating a fire they have determined was intentionally set Wednesday evening.
A firefighter also received minor injuries and was treated and released from the local hospital.
Assistant Fire Chief Joe Calhoun said the department was called to the report of a structure fire at 2571 Hamstrom Road at 6:08 p.m. Wednesday.
Fire crews arrived within four minutes to discover heavy fire in the front half of the small, cinder block home, said Calhoun. It was unclear whether the home was occupied when firefighters arrived and crews entered through the rear of the home to search for victims and extinguish the blaze.
Several minutes after entering and searching the residence, firefighters encountered a great deal of heat and were forced to back out of the home. Firefighter Jordan Bucy, who was recently sworn into the department, received second-degree burns to both ears.
Calhoun said Bucy was wearing all appropriate personnel protective gear at the time. He was transported to Porter Portage Hospital Campus where he was treated and released. He will require follow-up medical care, said Calhoun.
The fire was extinguished at 7:03 p.m. A dog was found dead in the home as a result of the fire. Calhoun said firefighters reported several suspicious findings, including evidence the home's rear door had been forced open prior to their arrival.
The department's Fire Investigation Team was called out, including investigator Jeremy Himan and his accelerant detection K-9 partner Bosco.
Bosco indicated on several areas in the house for probable accelerants and the team found several accelerant pour patterns on the floor, said Calhoun, adding evidence has been collected and is being sent to the State Police Crime Lab for further analysis.
The Portage Fire Department is requesting the public’s assistance in solving the case. If anyone has information regarding this fire, they can contact the Portage Fire Department at (219) 762-7404 or call the state fire marshal’s arson tip line at (800) 382-4628.