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The cause of a house fire that ripped through a Hammond home Friday night isn't known but the city's chief fire inspector is leaning toward an air conditioner in the home as the culprit. 

Crews were dispatched around 8 p.m. to 1244 Hoffman St. on the city's north side according to Hammond Fire Chief Jeff Smith.

Smith said when firefighters arrived flames were coming out of every window of the home and a man was lying in the front yard.

The man, who Smith said was having trouble breathing, initially refused medical care but was eventually transported to a local hospital for smoke inhalation. 

Michael Opinker, the Fire Department's chief fire inspector, said Saturday afternoon he believed the man had been released from the hospital.

Opinker said there is no definitive cause but he is looking at the air conditioner that was in the same area as the fire's origin.

He took the unit's electrical outlet and plug in case the department chooses to send it away for testing. Opinker said that may be unnecessary as there was no insurance on the home thus there will be no claim.

Despite extensive damage to the home, firefighters were able to save two urns containing family members' ashes from a charred china cabinet that was also in the same room where the fire is believed to have started. 

Opinker cited the actions of Battalion Chief Don Koerner for his quick response and leadership. 

"He has over 30 years experience. If it wasn't for his leadership the whole house would have been lost," Opinker said. 

Hammond Fire Department was the only agency to battle the fire. 

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