Elkhart Township fires from weekend investigated

Two families were displaced after their houses were damaged from fire over the weekend.
Posted on Nov. 25, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Nov. 25, 2013 at 4:56 p.m.

GOSHEN — Two families were displaced from their homes following separate unrelated fires near Goshen over the weekend. Firefighters have yet to determine the cause of one of the two fires.

The Elkhart Township Fire Department was called at about 6:18 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, to 18280 Buckridge Court, just off of C.R. 28 and northeast of Goshen.

Jefferson, Harrison, Concord and Clinton township fire departments were called in to help battle the fire.

Roelf Kuitse, the owner of the house, said he arrived home at about 6 p.m., and when he opened the door from the breezeway into the house, he felt a rush of heat and heavy smoke pour out of the door.

The fire was under control by 10:19 p.m., according to an Elkhart County dispatcher.

Kuitse said a firefighter told him they were not sure of the cause of the fire, but that it may have started near the electrical box in the basement.

Elkhart Township fire investigator Doug Gadson said he has not been able to determine the cause or the origin of the fire because the structure is not safe, and that the fire department will have to use heavy equipment to move pieces around for them to gain access through the damaged house.

The fire rekindled twice Saturday because the floor caved into the basement, leaving hot spots inside and limiting access for the fire crews.

Kuitse had family and friends who offered him food and a place to stay, the Rev. Gregg Lanzen said.

Lanzen is one of two fire and police chaplains for the city of Goshen and Elkhart Township. He said he was called to the scene of the fire Friday. He was also called Sunday, when another family in Elkhart Township was displaced because of a fire.

The Elkhart Township Fire Department was called at about noon Sunday to 66268 S.R. 15.

A couple and their 2-year-old son escaped from the fire uninjured, as did their dog. The family’s cat was taken to the veterinarian to be treated for smoke inhalation.

Jeremy Klinedinst said he had been charging the family’s four-wheeler in the garage. His wife, Courtney Klinedinst, was at work at the time the fire started.

Gadson said the cause of the fire was electrical in nature, and the fire started in the house’s garage.

The garage was destroyed, and the fire crept up to the attic. The Klinedinsts were helped by friends and family. The Red Cross is providing clothes and food assistance to the family.

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