ELKHART — Firefighters could not determine the cause of a fire that severely damaged a house west of downtown Elkhart Wednesday morning.
The Elkhart Fire Department responded at about 8:40 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, to 146 N. Sixth St. to reports of a fire.
Firefighters found a two-story house, with fire and smoke coming out from the back of the building.
Fire Investigator Tony Balzano said crews went in to make sure nobody was in the house and didn’t find anyone.
Fire crews attempted to do an interior attack initially, but because the fire was so intense part of the roof collapsed. Firefighters were able to get out of the structure without harm and went to defensive mode, tackling flames from the exterior, Balzano said.
The fire was under control within 40 minutes, said Battalion Chief Wes Johnson. Four fire engines, a ladder engine, two ambulances and 23 firefighters responded to the scene, he said.
Balzano said he determined that the fire started in the attic space of the rear entry of the house.
He was not able to investigate the area of the origin of the fire thoroughly because the structure was unsafe.
The house, owned by Unique Management, was vacant, with no electricity or gas, so he ruled the possibility of a fire caused by an electrical malfunction or by natural causes out. Jennifer Allen, who lives in the 100 block of Sixth Street, said she had not seen that house occupied in the last few months.
She said there have been about six house fires in her neighborhood over the last two years.
Part of W. Lexington Avenue between Vistula Street and Riverside Drive was closed because of the fire. Sixth street was also closed while the fire department worked on the scene. The street has been reopened.