Firefighters home from hospital following Wednesday morning fire

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Wednesday morning house fire on Greencastle's north side had firefighters battling extreme humidity and heavy smoke along with flames.

Two Greencastle firefighters were taken to Putnam County Hospital during the incident at 709 E. Shadowlawn Ave. but both were home resting by Wednesday afternoon.

"They are both doing better," Fire Chief Bill Newgent said. "We thank the people of the community for their concern and for stopping by to see how they were doing."

Firefighter Jeff Elkins injured his shoulder in a fall down a set of stairs. Newgent said thick smoke at the time led to the fall.

Elkins sent out a mayday call as soon as he fell, and fellow firefighters quickly responded.

He left the house under his own power, but was taken to the hospital to have the shoulder examined.

Capt. John Burgess was also transported to the hospital after Operation Life found him to have an elevated heart rate and blood pressure during the fire.

Newgent said it is standard protocol for OL responders to do a quick check of firefighters when they come out for new air packs. When Burgess' rates did not return to normal levels, he was taken to the hospital for evaluation.

"It was early morning but the humidity was very high," Newgent said. "When firefighters are placed in those types of conditions they wear down pretty quickly."

GFD was dispatched to the scene at 4:54 a.m. after the male occupant of the front bedroom awoke to a popping sound and saw a glow in the corner of the room.

He woke his mother Janet Jayne, who rents the home, and the three or four occupants quickly evacuated and called the fire department. All occupants were uninjured.

Russell Elliott owns the property.

Newgent said the fire was under control by 5:25 a.m., but the more arduous task was extinguishing the various hot spots throughout the house.

The fire reached the attic, with its cellulose insulation, which tends to smolder for some time.

For this reason, responders had to tear down much of the home's ceiling and extinguish the insulation.

Newgent said there was a fair amount of damage throughout the house. While no official estimate is available, he said it would be at least $60,000 to $70,000.

No cause has been determined. The state fire marshal's office investigated the scene on Wednesday.

Firefighters cleared the scene at 9:21 a.m.

The chief said fighting fires during the hot summer months can be especially taxing, and that assisting agencies help keep the responders safe and healthy.

"We take precautions of making sure that Red Cross is there and other agencies to hydrate the firefighters," Newgent said. "Also, we call in other fire departments. Normally, some of these departments may not assist initially with a fire in Greencastle but due to the high humidity and the extreme amount of work with tearing out the ceilings in the home, we had to call in resources to help us out."

Greencastle was assisted at the scene by Reelsville, Cloverdale, Floyd Township, Madison Township and Bainbridge fire departments. Clinton Township Fire Department covered the Greencastle fire station.

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