South Haven fire still under investigation

2012-11-20T17:45:00Z 2012-11-20T18:15:13Z South Haven fire still under investigationBy Joyce Russell, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222

SOUTH HAVEN  | Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire that destroyed a home at 769 Heritage Road on Monday afternoon, sending the homeowner to the hospital.

South Haven Fire Chief Bill Lundy said Tuesday that the Porter County Fire Investigation Strike Team and an investigator with the Indiana state fire marshal's office investigated the scene Monday night, but have not yet determined a cause.

Homeowner Russell Simcox was injured in the fire. He was found by neighbors at his front door and pulled to safety into his front yard. Simcox initially was taken to Porter Regional Hospital, but later was airlifted to St. Joseph Hospital in Fort Wayne, where he was listed in stable condition Tuesday afternoon.

Lundy said he also wanted to clarify response times to the fire after neighbors voiced concerns that it seemed to take too long for the ambulance and fire engine to arrive.

Lundy said multiple 911 calls were placed, with the first coming at 2:20 p.m. The call was dispatched at 2:22 p.m. The ambulance, which was not at the station when the call was dispatched, was en route to the Heritage home at 2:24 p.m.

A first alarm was sounded, calling in neighboring departments, at 2:28 p.m. The ambulance was on scene at 2:29 p.m. and the South Haven fire engine was the first fire apparatus on scene at 2:35 p.m.

Lundy said there are between 40 and 45 volunteer members of the fire department along with paid, full-time personnel who staff the ambulances.

Any daytime fire call is particularly difficult for a volunteer department to staff, he said.

"They are at work, or they are sleeping at home because they were at work or they are responding from work," he said, adding he believes his department responded as quickly as possible Monday.

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