MICHIGAN CITY – Police and fire officials are still investigating the cause of a fire that destroyed a wooden garage behind a home on 8th Street early Thursday, and left many area residents without internet and phone service.
The Michigan City Fire Department was called at 1:46 a.m. to a report of a "confirmed structure fire" in the 200 block of East 8th Street, according to public information officer Tony Drzewiecki.
Engine Company 1, at 10th and Ohio, was the first to arrive and found a three-bay, detached garage fully engulfed in flames, along with a utility pole on the east side of the structure, he said. The fire had destroyed most of the wooden building prior to firefighters' arrival.
Engine Companies 2 and 4 also responded and assisted in using "deluge guns to bring the fire under control," Drzewiecki said. The structure was determined by Battalion Chief James Young as not safe to enter, so the fire was battled from outside.
Fire Marshall Rob Schaffer arrived to investigate, and after checking the remains of the fire and interviewing witnesses, determined the cause of fire is "unknown and remains under investigation," Drzewiecki said.
However, the on-scene investigation "was able to rule out any electrical malfunction as the cause, since there were no active utilities to the structure," he said.
The garage contained a small amount of building material being stored inside, and one vehicle was parked outside.
Little was left of the building Thursday afternoon except debris, as it partially collapsed from the blaze. Also damaged was the 2004 GMC Envoy which was parked next to the garage and struck by debris, according to a police report. The SUV was partially burned by the fire.
Comcast had a fiber optics line attached to the utility pole that caught fire and it melted the fiber line, Drzewiecki said. Many area residents were without Comcast service until late Thursday morning while crews repaired the line.
NIPSCO and Comcast crews remained on the scene Thursday afternoon, checking power and gas lines, and repairing the damage.
La Porte County EMS assisted at the scene, and no injuries were reported.