1 killed in Wallen blaze

November 14, 2018

A person died in a fire that burned a northwest Allen County farmhouse to the ground Tuesday.

Washington Township Fire Chief Rob Roy said several explosions were heard after firefighters arrived on the scene at 5202 Wallen Road just after 7:30 a.m. and found the three-story home fully engulfed in flames.

“It was on the ground already,” he said.

He said the report of the blaze came in as a structure fire, with no mention of an explosion. However, neighbors said they heard and felt a large explosion.

They said they did not want to comment on who lived at the address Tuesday morning but said they feared the worst. Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux confirmed early Tuesday night that a body was found in the home.

Identification will come from the Allen County coroner, he added.

The fire was battled from the ground and air by an aerial truck from Smith Township. Two shifts of firefighters from Allen and Whitley counties were on the scene by noon, Roy said, adding that he could not estimate the number of people who assisted.

Heavy equipment was brought in to sift through the debris Tuesday afternoon, and firefighters remained on the scene on the north side of Wallen, just east of Fritz Road.

Shortly after noon, flames still licked at the interior of a pile of charred and smoking debris about 4 feet high. Remains of a cupola smoldered, and a door with decorative windows lay on the ground on the opposite side of Wallen Road amid scattered debris.

Yellow crime scene tape was posted around the address. Roy said that was a precaution as the scene remained under investigation.

Allen County tax records say the house dated to 1877 and had a detached garage.

Fire vehicles from LaOtto, Union Township/Coesse, Huntertown, Smith Township, Southwest Allen County and New Haven were among those lining both sides of narrow Wallen Road during the day.

Wallen Road between Huguenard and Fritz roads was shut down as firefighters battled the blaze.

This is the fourth fire this year in which one or more people died in Allen County. The others:

• Three people died in a house fire May 26 in the 9200 block of Wheelock Road, near Flutter Road. Larry Bernard Shaw, 46, Amber Dawn Shaw, 43, and Elijah Shaw, 12, died from injuries suffered in the blaze.

• Lizzie Lee Caldwell, 68, died Sept. 28 from respiratory and renal failure due to thermal burns suffered in a fire Sept. 12 at 5613 S. Harrison St. Her estranged husband, Eddie Lee Caldwell, 54, is charged with murder, felony burglary, arson and aggravated battery and misdemeanor invasion of privacy. He is accused of dousing her with gasoline and setting her on fire in the home.

• Jeffrey Wayne Rhoades, 58, was found dead in his ranch home that caught fire in the 14000 block of Rohman Road on Oct. 28. The fire remains under investigation by the Fire Arson Specialized Team of Allen County. The cause and manner of Rhoades’ death are being investigated.


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