Quick response by neighbors helps victims of Elkhart house fire escape

A fire at 823 N. Main on Elkhart partially destroyed a home where three families lived.

Posted on April 30, 2014 at 4:18 p.m.

ELKHART — Several people in Elkhart reacted quickly when a house in their neighborhood caught on fire Wednesday afternoon, April 30.

Neighbors saw smoke coming out of the upstairs apartment on the east side of a house at 823 N. Main St. around 1 p.m.

Firefighters entered through the front door and found the fire on the second floor, according to a news release from the Elkhart City Fire Department. The fire was contained to one room and was quickly extinguished and the upstairs tenant was not home at the time of the fire, the release said. All other tenants got out without injuries.

There was minor fire damage to the second floor and there was moderate smoke damage and a first floor apartment had some water damage, the release said.

They flagged down a fire truck that was just passing by the area, according to Battalion Chief Wes Johnson of the Elkhart Fire Department. 

Within three minutes, nine Elkhart fire vehicles were on the scene. So many trucks came out, Johnson said, because neighbors initially thought that a young girl — the daughter of resident Vikki Miracle — was trapped in the apartment. 

Firefighters broke an upstairs window and went inside, but no one was trapped. Later, neighbors learned that Miracle's daughter was safely at school.

Miracle, who arrived from work later that afternoon, said she doesn't know how the fire could have started. She and her daughter have lived in the house for two years. 

Two downstairs residents, Brian Troyer in the back apartment and Connie Buck in the front apartment, were home when the fire started but escaped unhurt. 

Buck, who recently fractured her hip, was pulled from the building by neighbors across the street. 

She sat on their porch wrapped in a blanket, visibly nervous until a firefighter brought over her purse, which contained her inhaler and phone.

"I've lived there almost a year and I love it so much," she said, watching the scene "It's a beautiful apartment."

Elkhart fire investigators determined the fire was accidental, but did not identify the exact cause in a news release Wednesday evening.

According to the release, the fire started in the living room of the upstairs apartment, causing minor fire damage and moderate smoke damage.

There was also water damage to the front first floor apartment.

Follow reporter Lydia Sheaks on Twitter at @LydiaSheaks


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