Inspector: Fire started in home’s garage area

A fire that destroyed a home at 842 Knollwood Drive started in an area encompassing the garage, breezeway and Florida room of the home, investigators said.

Bartholomew County Fire Inspector Gene Wever said he is continuing to investigate the cause of Sunday’s fire, which destroyed the one-story ranch home and its contents.

The fire’s cause continues to be listed as undetermined, although Wever said he is fairly sure the fire was not intentionally set.

The home is owned by Rose Marie Powers, who lived there with her daughter, Debbie Mack, and Mack’s son, Derek, and his three children.

Powers said one of the children, a 9-year-old, had finished mowing the yard with a riding mower and had parked the mower in the garage before the fire started.

She speculated that the mower might have been the source for the fire, perhaps running over paper or something flammable that caught fire in the garage.

The family was warned of the fire when one of the children saw smoke and yelled for the family to leave the house, Debbie Mack said. She was in the laundry room when she heard the screams and left the home.

“This was my home,” she said. “I was raised on the next street over. The children are just devastated.”

They are now staying with family members in Columbus, she said.

Debbie Mack said a witness who said the family had tried to move a truck out of the driveway was incorrect.

The family did move a van and car out of the driveway but was unable to save the pickup and camper that were parked on the driveway leading to the garage. The keys to the truck were in the house, which was already afire, she said. She said the only hitch to move the camper was on the truck, which couldn’t be moved, resulting in both being destroyed in the fire.

Firefighters from six area departments were called to the fire about 5:20 p.m. Sunday.

The occupants escaped unharmed, and there were no injuries among the estimated 40 firefighters who worked at the scene. The house was listed as a total loss of $130,000 plus the contents.

Photos of the early stages of the fire, before firefighters arrived, have been helpful to investigators, Wever said. Anyone with photos of the fire is asked to call Wever at 812-379-1535 for instructions on how to send them to investigators.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.