Local News

Open Burning Cause of Same Day House Fires

(La Porte County, IN) - Open burning has been identified as the cause of two house fire scares on the same day in northern La Porte County, with damage to both residences limited largely as a result of the homeowners using garden hoses on the flames until firefighters could arrive.


At about 3 p.m. on Friday, emergency responders were called to the 3900 block of North Fail Road. There, a property owner, Gregory Napiwocki, 42, explained he was burning some boxes in his backyard when he reportedly left the residence for about ten minutes.


He told investigators that nothing seemed out of the ordinary when he returned. A short time later, though, he was inside his house when he noticed black smoke and flames on the back side of his residence.


Napiwocki said various items, like a mattress underneath his deck, caught fire, according to police. 


Kankakee Township Fire Chief Zach Rasiuk said the deck was destroyed but the use of a garden hose helped keep the flames from spreading into the residence before the arrival of firefighters. He said the flames, burning the exterior of the home close to the deck, were beginning to reach into the attic when they were stopped by firefighters removing the trim from the upper edge of the structure.  


“We were able to pull the soffit down and stop it before it got into the house,” he said.


Rasiuk said the open burning was being done too close to the deck where a pet dog was found deceased.


Earlier that afternoon, firefighters were called to the 6500 block of West 125 North in Coolspring Township where another homeowner, Patrick Potucek, was burning dead weeds in the rock beds surrounding his home when a nearby pine tree caught fire, quickly going up in flames and catching the house on fire in turn.


Potucek grabbed a garden hose and then began to combat the flames, per authorities.


Upon arrival, police said firefighters removed some siding panels from the house to make sure the fire was completely extinguished.

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