Two dead after grandfather runs into burning home for son-in-law

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COESSE, Ind, (WANE) – Firefighters in Whitley County have found the bodies of two men inside a house that caught fire late Wednesday night.

Flames engulf a home in Coesse.
Flames engulf a home in Coesse.

Firefighters were called just before midnight to a home at 2480 Barr Street in the small town 15 miles west of Fort Wayne.

Union Township Fire Department Chief Chad Radke said five people were inside the home when it caught fire. Two children and two adults made it out safely, but the father of the children did not. The grandfather of the children went back inside the burning home to get his son-in-law, but neither were able to make it out.

The bodies were discovered several hours after the fire started. Radke said one body was found in the kitchen next to the refrigerator and the other body was found in a back bedroom. The Whitley County Coroner’s Office is working to positively identify the men.

The children and grandmother did not have serious injuries.

When the first arriving firefighters arrived at the home, flames were towering from the roof and most of the house was on fire, according to Radke. Three additional departments were called to help battle the blaze.

Radke said crews had to attack the fire from the outside with water. Most of the intense flames were out by 1 a.m., but crews didn’t start searching the until several hours later due to safety concerns.

The state fire marshal is on scene to aid with the investigation.

The aftermath of an late-night fire in Whitley County that left two dead.
The aftermath of an late-night fire in Whitley County that left two dead.

Radke said when the fire started, one of the children inside awakened the grandparents. It’s unknown if there were working smoke detectors inside the home.

“We all want to go in and try and save our family members,” Radke told NewsChannel 15. “Sometimes it’s a hard judgment call for a person to make, but if you’re out it’s better to stay out.”

Radke said the home had a wood-burning stove

The grandmother of the children told fire officials when she was leaving the home fire was concentrated around an area where the stove was located.

Radke said the stove couldn’t be ruled out as a possible cause, but he cautioned it also couldn’t be confirmed either.

NewsChannel 15 spoke to several people Thursday who said they’re shocked and saddened by this tragedy.

“Just nothing but a sense of grief, I guess. It can happen to anybody at any time. It really makes you stop and think,” said Robb Evans, a neighbor of the family.

Donation buckets for the family will be placed in gas stations across Coesse, Columbia City, and Fort Wayne starting Friday.

“If you can donate clothes to this family, food, whatever they need, shoes, socks, you know everything, they’re going to need it, they’re going to need the help,” Connie Smith, a Coesse resident who is organizing the buckets, told NewsChannel 15.

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