COOLSPRING TWP. – A fire that did major damage to an apartment in unincorporated Michigan City was apparently caused by an unattended candle, according to police and fire reports.

The Michigan City Fire Department received a mutual aid dispatch just before 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 31, about a fire in the Woodland Crossing complex in the 300 block of Woodsedge Drive, according to a fire department report.

The initial call said the fire was in a downstairs unit, but residents of an upstairs apartment might be trapped inside, the report said.

Firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke coming from the doors and windows of the downstairs unit, and the lower bedroom "engulfed in flames," the report said.

La Porte County Sheriff's deputies were also notified just before 10 a.m. of the fire with possible residents inside, a police report said.

"I observed heavy black smoke and fire coming from the window on the first floor in the southeast corner of the building," a deputy wrote in the report. "Myself and several other officers began evacuating the other residents from the building."

Fire alarms were going off in the unit, but firefighters were unable to immediately enter until the fire was extinguished. Hoses were used through the bedroom window to knock the fire back, and firefighters using air masks entered to find a mattress on fire in a back bedroom, the fire department report said.

The fire on the mattress was extinguished and fans were set up to clear the smoke, the report said. Firefighters then searched for other possible fire extensions, but found none.

Michigan City firefighters then turned the scene over to the Coolspring Township Fire Department.

The fire was apparently caused by a candle, according to the sheriff's department.

After the fire was out, a deputy spoke with the woman who lived in the apartment as she was being treated by a La Porte County EMS team.

She said she had been home with her three children – ages 3, 1 and 4 months – when the fire started, the police report said.

"She explained she had lit a candle at approximately 9:30 a.m. and was concerned the children would knock it over while playing, so she placed it in her bedroom window sill."

She went into another to room because the baby was crying and returned "a few minutes later and found the sheet that was hanging over the window on fire," the report said. The woman "tried to extinguish the fire with water but was unsuccessful," so she "grabbed her children and left the building."

Coolspring firefighters finished extinguishing the fire and the American Red Cross was called to assist the woman and her children with finding living arrangements, according to the sheriff's department.

No injuries were reported.

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