Fire guts Albion home

I used to live in this place -- in fact, I wrote many of my early stories here, including some about firefighting. It was the second home I had after graduating from high school: The first was an apartment that was also destroyed by fire, on New Year's day several years ago.

Fire Monday night destroyed an Albion home, although the occupants escaped safely.

The two story wood frame home at 112 E. Highland Street was engulfed in flames within minutes of the first 911 call being received at 9:47 p.m., according to the Noble County Sheriff's Department. The cause of the blaze, at a home reportedly occupied by the Heileman family, was undetermined and remains under investigation.

Firefighters were hampered by exploding medical oxygen tanks that accelerated the fire, and by a burned through electric line, which fell into the back yard and endangered emergency crews. The fire burned so hot that they weren't able to get in, and had to spray water on the flames from outside. An aerial ladder truck from the Kendallville Fire Department was brought in provide an elevated water stream that helped knock down the flames, while a pall of smoke drifted over most of town.

The fire was declared under control just before midnight, but the building was too heavily damaged to be saved and had to be knocked down with heavy equipment to avoid endangering people with a collapse. American Red Cross personnel were helping the displaced family with their needs.

Several fire trucks responded to assist from the Kendallville and Orange Township Fire Departments, while the Noble Township Fire Department stood by on Albion's station in case of another call. Three fire engines and a rescue truck responded from Albion, manned by twenty-six Albion firefighters. Also assisting at the scene were members of the Albion Police Department, Noble County EMS, American Electric Power, and Owen's Excavating.