Man dies following Birdseye house fire

By Herald Staff

BIRDSEYE — The Indiana State Fire Marshal is investigating a Memorial Day house fire in Birdseye in which an 18-year-old man was found inside.

Birdseye volunteer firefighters retrieved Austyn Walburn from the house while it was still on fire. He was pronounced dead at Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper. The cause of death has not yet been determined.

“We worked on him all the way to the hospital, doing CPR,” Fire Chief David Smith said.

The Birdseye Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to a fire at Melissa Welp’s house, 103 W. Second St., at 8:43 p.m. The south side of structure was fully engulfed, Smith said.

About five minutes after they were on the scene, firefighters were alerted that it was now a search-and-rescue operation, meaning that someone was inside. Firefighters went into the house while the fire was still going and found Walburn, who was then transferred to the hospital, Smith said.

The home is pretty much a total loss, Smith indicated. “There may be a few salvageable things,” he said. “What didn’t get damaged by the fire was damaged by smoke, and there was water damage.”

A total of 17 firefighters and four trucks were at the scene until 12:34 a.m.

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