Goshen News, Goshen, IN

October 27, 2012

Middlebury firefighter injured fighting house fire


MIDDLEBURY — A firefighter was injured while battling a fire in rural northeast Elkhart County Friday afternoon.

Around 2 p.m., Middlebury fire crews were called to a house fire at 51855-1 East County Line Road, north of Middlebury, according to Middlebury Fire Chief Jeff Wogoman.

“On scene, we had fire coming through the rear of the residence, pretty heavy fire,” Wogoman said.

“We sent a crew around to hit the back of the house and a crew to hit the inside of the house.”

“We got it knocked down pretty quick, other than it did seem to get up in the attic and that’s what we’re having difficulty with right now,” he said at the scene.

“It looks like there are two different roofs in there so it’s in between the two roofs, so it’s hard getting at it right now,” Wogoman said.

A firefighter was injured when he fell through a portion of the burnt roof.

“He fell through the roof, hit a burnt spot and fell through and landed in the basement stairwell,” Wogoman said. “(He) must have landed on his head and shoulder and he had a pretty significant shoulder injury.”

Wogoman did not know which hospital the man was transported to but that “He was talking and he was alert.”

Wogoman did not release his name.

Dearl Brown, a neighbor across the street from the fire, said he was sitting in his home when the fire broke out.

“(We) heard a big bang and we was questioning about what it was,” he said. “Then another neighbor banged on the door and said the house across the street was on fire.”

Brown called 911 on his phone and then alerted another neighbor to the fire because her house was next to the one on fire.

“I’m glad I did (alert the neighbors) because there was plenty of fuel,” Brown said. “I thought with the wind and leaves and everything, I thought it might be all over the neighborhood before it was over with.”

Brown credited prompt response from the firefighters in getting the fire contained before it got out of control or spread to neighboring houses.

“We’re a long way out from fire protection. These guys got here quick today, you got to give Middlebury a thumbs up on this one because usually we’re so far out, the only thing they can save is the foundation,” he said.

According to Wogoman, in addition to Middlebury, crews from Bristol, Shipshewana and White Pigeon, Mich. assisted on the call.