A house fire that claimed the life of several pets has been ruled as suspicious by Squad 70, Kosciusko County’s fire investigation team.
Members of Burket Fire Department were called at approximately 4:35 p.m. to respond to a fire a residence located at 3674 S. SR 25, Burket, near Palestine Lake. Upon arrival to the blaze, Mentone Fire Department was called for a full assist in extinguishing the flames.
According to Gordon Baker, fire investigator with Squad 70, the fire began in the basement of the single story home. Baker states though the exact cause of the fire has yet to be determined, investigators have ruled out all accidental causes for the blaze.
According to Baker, two families live in the home. James England, home owner and occupant, resides on the upstairs level of the home with fellow resident, Bruce Tillman. Baker stated that the basement is occupied by Billy Griggs and his girlfriend.
Kim Komdeur of The Kosciusko County Chapter of the American Red Cross stated the organization is providing assistance to a family of three adults and a family of two adults and one infant. In addition, Komdeur stated a third family from outside the home is receiving comfort kits. The Red Cross has provided comfort kits, food, clothing and shelter.
Baker stated this is the second time that a fire has begun in the home. According to Baker, in 2007 a fire began in the basement of the home as well.
Though the flames were contained to the basement, Baker stated the entire home suffered serious smoke damage. Baker estimated the cost of damages was between $30,000 to $40,000.
According to Kevin McSherry, Burket Fire Department fire chief, the residents of the home were not present at the start of the fire. Though no one was harmed as a result of the fire, several pets did perish due to smoke inhalation. McSherry stated that a female dog and her puppies and a cat all perished as a result of the heavy smoke that filled the home.
The cause of the blaze remains under investigation by Squad 70.