CROWN POINT — Firefighters recused turtles, snakes and other reptiles while fighting a fire in a 19th-century house on the corner of East Monitor Street and North Indiana Avenue.
No one was injured in the fire, Crown Point Assistant Fire Chief Mark Baumgardner said.
Crown Point Fire Rescue responded to the fire late Monday afternoon. Firefighters knocked down part of a wooden fence to get around to the backdoor and were raising a ladder to the balcony of the two-story home, which is next to the South Shore Arts Artful Gardens.
The distinctive 3,302-square-foot home with four bedrooms and three bathrooms was built in 1880, according to Realtor.com. It had been converted into an apartment building with three units, Baumgardner said.
The two adults and two children who lived in the only occupied unit were able to escape from the fire, which started in their apartment, he said.
"There was heavy smoke when we arrived," he said. "The building suffered significant damage. It's too early to tell if it will be declared uninhabitable. That will be up to the building department."
The fire department warned people via social media to stay away from the area, a mix of residential homes and businesses like AT&T, Crown Party Rentals and the D & L Wood Products millwork shop.
Firefighters had to run into the smoke to make sure no one was in the other two units.
"It was a risky search," he said. "There was a lot of clutter in the unoccupied units."
Firefighters also had to rush into the building to rescue the reptiles, which the residents weren't able to save as the apartment filled with smoke.
"We pulled out three large containers of reptiles," Baumgardner said. "There were turtles, snakes, you name it. It was a significant amount of reptiles."
Firefighters weren't able to use the aerial truck to spray the fire inside the house because of power lines. But they were able to get inside the suppress it with hoses. They had it under control by early Monday evening.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
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