Overnight fire injures four, destroys youth center in Elkhart

    Four injured in Sunday morning blaze that destroys three buildings in downtown Elkhart

    Posted on Sept. 23, 2012 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on Sept. 23, 2012 at 6:38 p.m.

    ELKHART — The building housing LifeLine — Youth for Christ was one of three destroyed in a fire that occurred early Sunday morning on State and Division streets.

    Just before 2 a.m., the fire is believed to have started at what was once Tony’s Shoe Store at 615 East St. before spreading to the LifeLine building and an apartment house, according to Elkhart fire investigator Kent Stouder. Concord and Osolo departments were called to aid Elkhart’s firefighters in a three-aerial operation.

    The blaze destroyed the old Tony’s building and the roof of the LifeLine building collapsed. In addition, the apartment building took “significant damage,” Stouder reported. The fire was brought under control at 4:41 a.m.

    Tenants in two of the apartment house’s units were able to escape, but three people in the third unit had to be rescued. They were flown by helicopter to Fort Wayne to be treated but their names and the extent of their injuries were not known as of Sunday afternoon. Stouder reported the residents of the apartment building suffered burns and smoke inhalation.

    A firefighter was also injured when he was hit by a water stream from a fire hose. He was taken to Elkhart General Hospital. The condition of the firefighter is also unknown at this time.

    The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

    In order to battle the blaze, firefighters had to cut electricity to many buildings in the downtown area, including the police department and the Lerner Theatre. The Lerner’s performance of “Smoke on the Mountain: Homecoming,” originally scheduled for tonight, has been postponed until 7:30 p.m. Monday.

    The Elkhart Truth and eTruth.com will have more on the fire and the investigation into its cause throughout the day and in the Monday edition of the newspaper.

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