ELKHART — A fire investigator said a fire that did significant damage to a house just west of downtown Elkhart Tuesday morning started on the first floor, but he continues to investigate the cause.
The Elkhart fire and police departments were called at about 8:40 a.m. to 506 S. Sixth St. The home, located between Marion and Harrison streets, was engulfed when crews arrived on the scene.
After almost an hour of battling flames and smoke, firefighters had the fire under control.
Fire investigator Tony Balzano was called to the scene at about 9:30 a.m. to begin his investigation.
“The crews had to work harder than normal because of the heavy fire,” he said.
Fire Chief Mike Compton said the fact that it was a large old structure with conventional wood made it harder for firefighters to get to all the fire immediately.
The crews that arrived at the scene first requested additional manpower to help tackle the fire.
Balzano said the house was not inhabited, and no one was found in the house. He said the structure housed three apartments: two on the first floor and one on the second floor.
The fire was determined to have started in the first floor, in the apartment in the rear side of the house. However, the cause remains undetermined.
Balzano said the house did not have gas or electricity.
The owner of the house told the fire investigator that he was making repairs at the house to make it habitable.
Patience and Derek Churchill, who live just north of 506 S. Sixth St., were home when a neighbor knocked on their door and told them about the fire.
Patience Churchill said she had seen people doing construction on the house recently, but she knew nobody was living in the house when the fire happened.
The apartment on the first floor in the rear of the house sustained the most damage. Balzano said that part of the house was a total loss.
The apartment on the first floor in the front of the house sustained heavy damage, while the apartment on the second floor received minimal to moderate damage.