REELSVILLE -- A Friday night fire destroyed a home near the north edge of Cataract Lake.
The Reelsville Fire Department was dispatched to the home at 3842 W. Ivanwald Dr. at 9:09 p.m., but authorities believe the blaze began much earlier.
"We suspect that the fire had burned for quite some time before it was discovered," said Reelsville fire chief John McPherson. "Once the heat cracked a window and got oxygen to the fire, it was going big-time by the time we got there."
The next-door neighbor, who also happens to be owner Kim Williams' father-in-law, made the discovery and called it in. Although little was showing outside at the time, the interior was already heavily damaged.
"I know when the father-in-law first looked in the window, you could already see the rafters. It had already burned through the ceiling and up into the second floor," McPherson said. "There wasn't a whole lot we could do."
The first Reelsville firefighter arrived at the scene within five minutes of the call. The full crew was there in 15 minutes.
"By the time we got there, the house sustained pretty much total damage on the inside. The outside looked fine. The inside was gutted completely," McPherson said.
Complicating the battle with the flames was the intense heat. McPherson said the combination of cedar siding and new windows allowed the house to get extremely hot before a window finally broke.
It basically just held the smoke and heat in for quite some time. Once it broke out, the oxygen just fed it," he said. "We initially tried to make entry to put it out, but couldn't and had to back out. We knocked it down from the outside, and then we were able to go back in and finish putting it out. It was a pretty stubborn fire."
Crews had the blaze knocked down after about half an hour, and had it totally out by 11 p.m. Besides Reelsville, crews from Cloverdale Township, Greencastle, Madison Township, the State Farm, Operation Life and the Bainbridge command bus responded.
Approximately 7,000 gallons of water were used.
Once the fire was extinguished, GFD assistant chief Jeff Mace led the investigation.
"We classified it as 'undetermined electrical,' which just means we know electrical started it," McPherson said. "It started in the master bedroom, but we don't know exactly what appliance or what exactly shorted out."
After the investigation, Reelsville crews were back on station at 3 a.m.
The fire was a total loss. McPherson estimated the structure to be worth approximately $40,000 and the contents another $25,000.
"It's insured. Nobody was hurt. There weren't any pets that were hurt. So, it's something they can replace; it's all material stuff," he said.
He added the three residents of the home are doing as well as can be expected.
"I went by Saturday and talked to them again; they're doing OK. It's just one of those things: you don't expect your house to go up," McPherson said. "I asked if they needed anything, and they said they were all OK."