Porter County Sheriff's Department


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Pcsp Officer Saves Washington Twp Man

County cop saves man from burning home in Washington Township

By Jeff Burton Nwi times Friday, February 25, 2011

Officer Justin Reeder


WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP | Fire officials believe had it not been for a loyal dog and a quick-thinking Porter County sheriff's officer, a 69-year-old man may not have made it out of his burning home Wednesday night.

Washington Township Fire Chief Rob Huffstodt said firefighters, medics and police responded to a home in the 300 block of North County Road 575 East about 9:15 p.m. after a neighbor reported an active house fire.

"It had a good start before we got there," Huffstodt said. "When I got on the scene flames were coming through the roof."

Huffstodt said neighbors told first responders they believed a dog was inside the house and the homeowners were both out of town. 

But Officer Justin Reeder quickly learned that wasn't the case.

In a report, Reeder said he approached the burning house and saw a light on inside. The officer said he yelled to see if anyone was inside and then saw a dog moving back and forth in a hallway.

As the officer entered the home to remove the dog, he said saw a computer screen and other lights on in the house. Reeder said when he reached the home's kitchen, he found a 69-year-old man disoriented and stumbling.

Reeder said as he was escorting the man and his dog out of the house, the living room was engulfed in flames.

Huffstodt said while the man's wife was out of town, he remained home, unbeknownst to his neighbors. Huffstodt said medics on the scene examined the man, who was uninjured.

Huffstodt said crews battled the fire for about five hours. Due to its rural location and a lack of hydrants, Huffstodt said, tankers and firefighters from Westville, Chesterton and Kouts, as well as Cass-Clinton, Morgan, Liberty and Union townships assisted in battling the blaze.

Thursday afternoon, most of the roof on the wood-sided home was caved in and all the windows knocked out. The wood siding surrounding the structure was covered with soot and the home was encircled with caution tape. Huffstodt said while four walls are still standing, the $250,000 home is unlivable and considered a total loss.

Huffstodt said the Porter County Fire Investigation Strike Team is investigating what caused the fire.

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