Neighbors save man from shed fire on north side

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A man was taken to the hospital after a shed fire that left him with burns on half of his body.

Crews were called to the fire in the 1700 block of Sanwela Drive around 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Firefighters found the man’s neighbors trying to put out the fire with a garden hose.

Tony Matteucci and his wife came back from shopping when they saw fire from his neighbor’s backyard. The metal shed behind the house was up in flames. The man, described in his 60s, was on the ground on fire.

“We saw a big plume of black smoke,” said Matteucci, who lives two doors down. “I went past his fence and saw him lying there. That’s when I jumped the fence and went over.”

A next door neighbor and a friend immediately started taking turns using a garden hose to put out the blaze while Tony’s wife and others called 911.

Tony grabbed a sheet of plywood to shield the man from the flames until firefighters arrived on scene.

“Everybody was trying to get him to stay down so I put the board up and held his hand,” said Matteucci. “It was pretty rough.”

Investigators are trying to figure out the cause of the fire and why the man was by the shed. Firefighters found typical items inside like yard equipment and charcoal for the grill.

“They did what they could,” said Bonnie Hensley, and IFD spokesperson. “He was burned.  We don’t really know the story on him yet.”

The neighborhood is rallying behind the man. Tony hopes the neighbor he waves hi to all the time gets better.

“We just hate to see things like this in the neighborhood,” he said. “That’s the thing about this community. We’re all very very close. Even though we didn’t know his name, we knew him.”

The victim was taken to Wishard Hospital’s burn unit. No word yet on his condition.