Historic house heavily damaged in Tuesday fire
BRICK CHAPEL — The red brick walls of a 140-year-old house on the west side of U.S. 231 are still standing following a major fire Tuesday morning.
Besides that, the roof is destroyed and the interior is heavily damaged. It remains to be seen what will become of the historic home.
Firefighters remained on the scene of the blaze at 3864 N. U.S. 231 for at least nine hours getting the fire under control and then investigating its origin.
No one was in the residence when emergency crews were first called to the area after 2 a.m. for a report of a power line down.
At the time of the initial investigation, a Putnam County sheriff’s deputy noticed a glow behind the house, but believed it to be a security light.
The problem was soon discovered to be much more serious, and the Bainbridge Fire Department was dispatched to the scene around 2:30 a.m.
Bainbridge was soon calling for assistance, with departments from three counties taking part in battling the blaze, as Floyd Township, Russellville, Roachdale, Cloverdale, Madison Township, Clinton Township, Greencastle and Putnamville Correctional Facility from Putnam County were all on scene.
Joining them were Rockville, Marshall and Bellmore from Parke County, as well as Mill Creek Township from Hendricks County.
Additionally, Fillmore Fire Department covered the Bainbridge station while its trucks and responders were at the scene.
Putnam County Operation Life and the sheriff’s department were also at the scene.
Also assisting the in the aftermath of the fire was the American Red Cross and 1-800-BOARDUP.
With tankers and engines from several departments at the scene, U.S. 231 was closed for several hours, with INDOT crews diverting traffic at U.S. 36 and the Putnam County Fairgrounds.
Eventually the road was reopened to just one lane of traffic before normal traffic was resumed late Tuesday morning.
The Greencastle aerial truck, which is not currently fully operational, was even called to the scene simply for taller ladders to assist with the large house and its 14-foot ceilings.
The Indiana State Fire Marshal’s office was called to the scene to investigate the cause, which has been narrowed down to either a lightning strike or relating to the downed power line in the area.
The exact cause remained undetermined as of late Tuesday afternoon.
Owned by Brian Garrard for the last three-and-a-half years, the house was built by the O’Hair family in 1879 and remained owned by the family for three generations.
“It’s really sad,” Garrard said. “It was a beautiful, red Italianate and to have lightning hit and do this much damage when it’s been standing for almost 150 years is just really sad.”