NEW WHITELAND, Ind. — Fire investigators believe kids are responsible for a fire that damaged multiple homes and structures in New Whiteland.
On Monday afternoon, fire crews were called out to Melrose Drive. Heavy smoke and flames were pouring from the backyard as firefighters worked to keep the fire from reaching the homes.
“It was just a matter of minutes before everything just kind of went up in flames,” said Bryan Buquer, a neighbor.
A day later, caution tape surrounded the home. Most of the damage was to a garage and a few sheds. The torched framing and burnt belongings are piled in the backyard.
Investigators believe the fire was accidental, and it started in the garage when three kids were playing with a lighter. Within seconds, flames and smoke took over.
“We want to get that message out not to play with those things because as they saw and many other people saw and even us as firefighters, we see that it changes so quickly,” said Dale Saucier, chief with the New Whiteland Fire Department.
As the fire got closer and closer to the homes, crews arrived just in time. A few homes only sustained exterior damage.
“They did get water put on the fire relatively quick, and then the other crews joined in to make sure there the fire didn’t get into the house,” said Chief Saucier.
Bryan Buquer lives right across the street. He saw the smoke and ran towards it. As the smoke started coming into the home, Buquer told us he rushed inside to grab one of the family’s dogs.
“I feel like that’s what any of our neighbors would do for each other, make sure everyone’s okay,” said Buquer.
Thankfully, no one was hurt, including pets and first responders. Firefighters know these calls can end much differently, and that’s why they’re warning kids that it can take just seconds for a situation to turn dangerous or even deadly.
“They can be tragic. They can turn around quickly,” said Chief Saucier.
Firefighters are reminding parents to talk to your kids about fire safety. Officials estimate the total damages to be around $250,000 since one of the sheds was full of tools.