Fire guts stone home near state forest

Bill Powell/The Herald
The Ferdinand Volunteer Fire Department fought a fire that gutted Lester and Ruth Rasche’s sandstone basement home at 6730 E. 700S, near the Ferdinand State Forest early this morning.

By BILL POWELL
Herald Staff Writer

FERDINAND — Temperatures did well to cling to double digits early this morning as the Ferdinand Volunteer Fire Department fought a fire that gutted Lester and Ruth Rasche’s sandstone basement home at 6730 E. 700S, near the Ferdinand State Forest.

Ruth Rasche left for work at the Saint Meinrad Archabbey about 15 minutes before the fire was noticed inside the 28-by-44 foot house and reported at 3:44 a.m., according to Fire Chief Dan Lindauer.

Lester Rasche was awakened by the activation of a hallway smoke detector, the chief said. He opened a hallway door and was nearly overcome by smoke. Rasche then closed the door and safely exited through his bedroom window.

“That was his only (safe) exit,” Lindauer said.

Lester Rasche was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation by Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Services, according to Lindauer.

The fire chief said the home’s smoke detectors, especially one that activated in a rear hallway to awaken Rasche, likely saved his life.

The fire appeared to have started in a utility room but, for now, Lindauer has the cause listed as undetermined. He plans to work with an insurance company fire investigator in hopes of coming to an agreement on the cause. If not, the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office could be called to assist.

One of the fire department’s dry hydrants was close by but, because of frigid temperatures, firefighters initially had trouble drawing water. Water was trucked by tanker to a dump tank erected at the scene. Lindauer said firefighters did not run short on water, but it took some scrambling to refill the department’s tanker in Ferdinand and bring it back to the scene.

The St. Anthony Volunteer Fire Department assisted with its tanker, as well.

The temperature at the time of the fire was 10 degrees.

“The fire was hard to battle because it burned through the ceiling and got into the attic area,” Lindauer said. “It spread through the attic, which made it even more difficult to get to with approximately 2 inches of ice covering the roof as a whole.”

More than half of the one-story home’s roof was gone when firefighters left the scene. Lindauer said there was heavy smoke and water damage to the rear sleeping quarters of the insured home.

The Rasches are staying with family, according to Lindauer. Some clothing inside closets can be cleaned and worn, the chief said.

Ferdinand’s department was on the scene three and a half hours with five trucks and 27 firefighters.

St. Anthony’s department assisted with a tanker and eight firefighters.

The Dubois Rural Electric Cooperative and Dubois County Sheriff’s Department also assisted.

Contact Bill Powell at bpowell@dcherald.com.




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