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Nursing home residents evacuated during restaurant fire

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

- Brazil firefighters among several departments responding to call for help at Cloverdale

CLOVERDALE -- Nursing home residents were evacuated following a restaurant fire at Rick's Steakhouse, 5 S. Main St., Cloverdale.

Residents at the Cloverdale Health Care facility, the building just south of Rick's Steakhouse, were evacuated from the scene some time around 3:30 a.m., Monday, Cloverdale Town Fire Marshal Mark Cassida said.

They were transferred to Cloverdale Middle School and then to the Putnam County Hospital.

Operation Life assisted in the evacuation of the residents, while Cloverdale Town Council President John Davis secured the use of the middle school, Cloverdale Police Chief Charlie Hallam said.

"When I was notified at home, it was at least an hour into the fire," Hallam said. "While I was en route, I got the call they had to evacuate the nursing home. All the patients were assembled in the lobby area. There was smoke in the north wing (of the building). We did not want to take any more chances."

Hallam said ambulances from Putnam County, Brazil and Terre Haute assisted in the evacuation. A wheelchair-assisted school bus was also used.

"The school really pitched in on this," Hallam said. "They stepped up and got things rocking and rolling for us."

Residents were expected to return Monday or today.

Little damage was reported to the health care facility or the Marathon gas station to the north of Rick's Steakhouse.

"The gas station received a little bit of smoke, and the (health care facility) received only a little bit of smoke," Cassida said.

Although representatives from the Indiana State Fire Marshal's office were on the scene Monday morning, a cause for the blaze had not been determined.

Cloverdale Fire Department firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 11:37 p.m. Sunday.

"It's still under investigation," Cassida told the (Greencastle) BannerGraphic on Monday. "It started in the east end of the building somewhere."

The building used to house the J.D. Lumber business.

Cassida said the building was engulfed by 1:30 a.m. Monday morning.

The blaze caused officials to close off a six-block portion of U.S. 231. In addition, Cloverdale Community School Corp. was under a two-hour delay as a result of the fire.

The fire chief said as many as 11 agencies assisted with the fire, including Belle Union, Greencastle, Brazil, Spencer, Reelsville, and Cloverdale Township firefighters.

Putnam County Chief Deputy Doug Nally was the first on the scene Monday. "There was smoke just bellowing from all the rafters on the northeast corner of the building," Nally said. "It just kept increasing and increasing."

Nally said firefighters had contained the blaze around 4 a.m.

The Cloverdale aerial fire truck was not used as the firefighters battled the blaze.

"We didn't have the personnel to man it," Davis said.

Firefighters and other officials were attempting to keep the north wall of the building from collapsing into the Marathon gas station Monday morning.

State Fire Marshall staffers Fred Daffer and Mike Fowler were on the scene just before daylight, Cassida said, but no cause had been determined Monday.

The building is owned by Carl Kelb of High Point Oil, Indianapolis.

Jason Moon is the BannerGraphic assistant editor.

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