Firefighters look on as a column of flame swirls from the roof of a rural Center Point residence.
Gusting wind transformed a small, localized fire in the garage of a residence just north of Center Point into a roaring blaze that nearly razed the entire house Monday, according to Capt. Troy Nichols of the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Department.
Crews from five area volunteer departments responded to the fire at 3288 N. CR 200 E., the residence of Mike Harvey, Carla Everson, Harvey's son and Everson's daughter, after receiving a 911 call shortly after 12 p.m. Nichols said no one was injured in the blaze, which began in the northeast corner of a garage behind the then-empty house.
The fire spread from the garage to the residence through a connecting breezeway, Nichols said. At that point, gusts of wind exceeding 25 miles per hour quickly complicated the situation.
"When (the wind) hits like that, all it does is just spread (the fire) as fast as you can put water on it," he said. "Wind is a pretty big factor, and it hindered us."
Neighbor Gary Morlan was working in a barn about 150 yards from the Harvey home when he heard an explosion. Morlan walked to the scene and attempted to control the fire, still in its early stages, with a garden hose.
"When I came out, it was just the back corner of the garage that was burning," he said.
Nichols said the home was 40 percent involved by the time the first wave of fire personnel arrived on the scene. Crews managed to avert damage to a trailer home adjacent to the fire but were unable to salvage Harvey's house.
The blaze had been contained by 2 p.m., Nichols said, but radio requests for additional personnel stretched into the evening as crews continued to monitor the scene of the fire. The threat of a structural collapse prevented firefighters from immediately conducting a full-scale investigation into the cause of the blaze, Nichols said.
Personnel from volunteer fire departments in Center Point, Posey, Poland and Van Buren Township assisted at the scene.