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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Fire destroys rural Greencastle home

Thursday, April 1, 2010

GREENCASTLE -- A charred skeleton of a house is what remains of the Steven Custis residence on Manhattan Road after a Wednesday evening fire.

Reelsville Fire Department, assisted by several departments, was dispatched to the blaze at 4:59 p.m. and found the structure at 4730 C.R. 325W (Manhattan Road) fully involved.

According to Reelsville Fire Chief John McPherson, Thursday's weather, coupled with the house's construction, likely made the fire spread quicker than expected.

"We were there within six minutes and there wasn't anything we could do," he said.

The fire likely started from a candle left burning on a table in the living room.

"They had opened the windows, and the wind was strong enough that we believe it blew some long curtains into the candle," McPherson said. "With the house being open and the wind, it just took off."

Couple this with the structure being a log home -- wood floors, wood walls, wood ceiling, wood roof -- and the fire took off quickly.

"It's just unfortunate. The construction of the home and the wind -- it just went up. I couldn't believe it," McPherson said.

The loss might have been greater, though, if not for a small stroke of luck. Fire units from Greencastle and Cloverdale Township were on the training grounds on the south side of Greencastle -- minutes from the fire. They were on the scene by 5:05 p.m.

Although the house was already fully involved, they were able to stop the fire as it was spreading to the garage.

"There was a garage that was close to it that was just starting to catch on fire," Greencastle chief Bill Newgent said. "Fire units put the garage out and then directed their efforts toward the house."

Winds also made containing the fire to the structure a bit tricky.

"With it being a little bit windy, it had spread into a grass fire on the north side of the house as well, so we had that to deal with initially," McPherson said. "It spread into the woods and the nearby property."

The house quickly became the main focus, though, and McPerson said the blaze was 90 percent out by 5:45 p.m. From there, they had several hours of extinguishing hot spots and helping the family with the removal of possessions.

McPherson estimated the loss to be $90,000 for the structure and $20,000 for the contents.

"It did get into the basement stairwell, but they were able to salvage quite a bit of stuff from the basement. Everything on the first floor was totaled," he said.

The family, a man, woman and young girl, were assisted by the American Red Cross and are now staying with family.

The assisting fire departments included Greencastle, Cloverdale Township, Putnamville Correctional Facility, Madison Township and Bainbridge, which provided the rehab vehicle, as well as covering the Greencastle station.

"All the departments just work so well together. It's just kind of interchangeable," McPherson said. "Everybody did a great job and nobody got hurt; that's a big thing."

Other assisting agencies included the Red Cross, Operation Life, Putnam County Sheriff's Department and Department of Natural Resources.

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So sorry for your loss. Thoughts and prayers sent your way!

Can someone please explain why it took so long for the fire dept to get there?

-- Posted by johndeeregreen on Wed, Mar 31, 2010, at 10:21 PM

I'm terribly sorry neighbor. You had a beautiful home.

-- Posted by ZRXguy on Wed, Mar 31, 2010, at 10:21 PM

House can be replaced; home is where your heart is and it will always be beautiful because it will be yours. Best wishes and prayers to you.

-- Posted by sneakers on Wed, Mar 31, 2010, at 10:40 PM

@johndeeregreen. The Fire Dept was there within 6 minutes of the call. Great job by the local firefighters today who gave up their family and sleep time to go help out complete strangers. Our community is so proud of these guys and gals who do this for nothing.

-- Posted by voiceofreason2 on Wed, Mar 31, 2010, at 11:32 PM

@ johndeeregreen..... Reelsville is a volunteer dept so 6 min respond time is great! That is what the state average is for a rural volunteer dept. Good fight to John and the guys. The wind was horrible yesterday for a fire. There were several more fires in the county yesterday. I believe all county depts were busy.

-- Posted by FFINALLOFUS on Thu, Apr 1, 2010, at 8:21 AM

Let's not forget the family. Don't just pray for them (which is a good thing), but do something more. The family lost everything!!!! Do something little, even a $25.00 gift card for everyday supplies (toothbrush, clothes and so on). Sure the insurance will help them out but it will take them sometime to get that money. I am headed to Wal-mart to get them a gift card!

-- Posted by NotreDameFan01 on Thu, Apr 1, 2010, at 10:30 AM

My first call to 911 was at 4:54 and it had already been called in 5 mins prior to me calling. I stood with the family while their house burnt until 5:16 when the first truck showed up. My second call to 911 was at 5:12 asking where they were. I do believe the firetrucks got there as soon as they could and they did a wonderful job but I want to know why we stood there for every bit of 20+ mins before the first one showed up. Did dipatch not call them quick enough? What happen? I stood their watching this family watch their house burn to the ground and there was nothing that any of us standing there could do to help them. I can't say enough how sorry I am for you all. I'm not blaming the fireman. I respect them greatly and could never do what they do. I know most of them and their families and I know they are brave men for doing what they do and I also am proud of them.

-- Posted by johndeeregreen on Thu, Apr 1, 2010, at 11:11 AM

For those of us that want to mail a donation, an address placed in the Banner Graphic will be appreciated.

-- Posted by mothersue on Thu, Apr 1, 2010, at 11:47 AM

@johndeeregreen It sounds like Putnam County Dispath isn't doing their job once again. The people who you need to talk to about this is Our "Wonderful" County Commissioners and Kim Hyten. And if you called 911 on a cell phone, you could had been talking to a different county dispath and located what tower you are the closest to for your exact location does take a few mins. I am a Putnam County Volunteer Firefighter so I see this happen ALL THE TIME. But no one will speak up to the Commissioners or Mr. Hyten doesn't do anything about the dispath problems. I'm also a firefighter's daughter and I watched my neighbor's (and my parents close friends) house burn due to the slow response of dispath.

No--let's not forget about the family too or the men and women who fought the fire.

Yes- the family lost everything but the firefighters risk their lives to fight the fires and to save lifes. Why can we americans remember our heros until its already too late?? How hard is it to say a simple "thank you" to someone you pass in a store with a fire dept shirt on. It's those simplest little things that remind a firefighter why he or she does it for. I do it. I would love to help the family with a gift card if the banner puts up an address.

-- Posted by FFINALLOFUS on Thu, Apr 1, 2010, at 12:38 PM

@FFINALLOFUS Thank you, I think I might just give them a call!

And Thank You for everything you and the rest of the firefighters out there do! You are brave brave people!

-- Posted by johndeeregreen on Thu, Apr 1, 2010, at 1:35 PM

Wow, FFINALLOFUS, you are a volunteer firefighter and you can disrespect dispatch, publicly? That's smart, real smart. How about you think back to all the times that you have been on a fire run. Think of all the times that you're department needed directions to the scene, needed food and water, needed another station toned out to assist you, needed electric companies called, or your department needed medical assistance. You think real hard about who was there to answer your call on the radio, answer the million other calls on 911 from passersby who just want to see what is going on and yet still had the patience to deal with your department on the radio. Think about that.

How about next time you show some respect for the men and women who help keep you safe, who will be there 24/7, holidays and weekends to answer your call for help if ever needed before you type hurtful, disrespectful and unfounded words on a public forum.

To the DISPATCHER that handled this call: WELL DONE!

-- Posted by WTFRUthinkin on Fri, Apr 2, 2010, at 2:55 AM

@WTFRUthinkin....first of all you must be a dispatcher or know of one. Secondly, I do have respect for dispatch. I just don't agree with everything that happens there. All I said was that Dispatch wasn't doing their job. I wasn't singling anyone of them out. Yes, I realize there was a lot of radio traffic that day because there were several fires w/ mulitple depts involved. Yes it is smart to speak publicly on an open forum. And NOT all dispatchers are patience. I realize they are trying to do their jobs but so are we. But I'm going to have my own opinion and you will have yours. This is an endless debate that no one will win.

-- Posted by FFINALLOFUS on Fri, Apr 2, 2010, at 7:57 AM

I understand you have your opinion, and I think voicing your opinion is always a smart idea. That being said, there are responsibilities to being able to have freedom of speech in our country. Hurtful and unfounded complaints are not opinions that should be shared aloud. If you feel there was problem with the dispatch or manner in which the dispatcher handled the call then it should of been handled in the proper way a complaint should be: i.e. the 911 Director should of been notified. Just remember that once something is said, it can not be unsaid.

-- Posted by WTFRUthinkin on Fri, Apr 2, 2010, at 10:39 PM

Thank You dispatchers for who you are and what you do! You deserve so much more praise, but I'm tired of typing......keep up the good work!!

-- Posted by woodsman on Sat, Apr 3, 2010, at 5:07 PM

I too, like johndeergreen, stood there as the house burnt to the ground. After I read the story (posted by our "put whatever sounds good to me" writers) I went back and checked my call log on my cell phone, it's not that I checked my watch/clock when the call was placed either! Without a shadow of a doubt it was over 20 minutes before the first truck arrived!!! Does that look like a 6 minute fire to you? Here is a quote from the writer. "The loss might have been greater, though, if not for a small stroke of luck. Fire units from Greencastle and Cloverdale Township were on the training grounds on the south side of Greencastle -- minutes from the fire." What a great line...:( I understand it was a log home, and it was a windy day, but the family lost EVERYTHING! There is diffinately something wrong with the system, and our write anything writers!!!

-- Posted by sickened on Sun, Apr 4, 2010, at 9:27 AM

I am a fire fighter with Reelsville, and it sickens me that you guys have nothing better to do then complain about the service we provide to the community. We do our bests. The first truck WAS THERE within six minutes. If you have problems with Us, Greencastle,and other area Departments, take it to the Fire Chiefs and the Trustees, don't publicly bash us for trying our best. Further more, Reelsville is a volunteer department, we volunteer our time and our lives to protect and serve our community, we do this out of the good of our hearts. We try to respond as quickly as we can. We try the best we can to save the property and ease the suffering of those involved.

Matthew Janeway

-- Posted by Eagle78 on Tue, Apr 6, 2010, at 2:58 PM

SERIOUSLY, I really think you have no idea what happens in a 911 Center unless you yourself have been there! The calls don't stop coming in just cause 1 call was made, and all calls must be answered some of those calls are by firefighters requesting further information on what they were called out for, and yes this does delay the Dispatch but who's fault is that? The Dispatcher that by law must answer the phone or the Firefighter making the senseless call? The dog complaints must be answered right along with the fire calls cause you never know that next call may be that tanker that just rolled over on the Interstate.To complain is your right to state your opinion also your right but I would caution those of us that are uninformed as to what actually happens in there to use a little common sense, FFINALLOFUS seriously, WOW one day some Dispatcher will be giving you driving directions when you can't find an address cause you can't read a map right I HOPE YOU remember those phone lines that are ringing why that Dispatcher is relaying to you how to get some where, and by the way I WOULD LOVE TO TELL YOU WHERE TO GO!

-- Posted by CastlePirate on Fri, Apr 9, 2010, at 5:17 PM

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