fop destroyed by fire

Thursday, January 04, 2018 14:03 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

- A woman pulled from a fire that destroyed the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 75 in Trail Creek early Thursday morning was reported in critical condition.

Vicky Cummings, 60, was transferred from Franciscan Health to the University of Chicago hospital with burns to about 50-pecent of her body and smoke inhalation, said her brother, Mike Elkins.

''We were told she was in a coma. She had been trying to breathe on her own a little bit here and there,'' said Elkins, a retired 35-year member of the Michigan City Police Department.

About 3:30 a.m., Coolspring Township firefighter Mike Lusco and Andrew Belue from the Michigan City Fire Department entered a second floor window from a ladder and removed Cummings from her upstairs apartment.

She lived there with Bob Ream, who jumped from the 2nd floor window prior to the rescue and called 911.

Ream was in the intensive care unit at Franciscan Health with smoke inhalation and other injuries, Elkins said.

''He's coherent and talking. They expect a full recovery,'' Elkins said.

At the beginning, firefighters had difficulty accessing enough water because of hydrants freezing up after opened.

Coolspring Township Assistant Fire Chief Warren Smith said the problem was solved by tapping into two hydrants fed by larger mains less prone to freezing.

Nevertheless, Smith said the building still would have been destroyed because of how fast the flames were spreading through the old wooden structure.

''Once it started rolling, there was no stopping it,'' Smith said.

LaPorte County Police fire investigator Mike Raymer said the fire appears to have started on the main level.

He said Ream was awakened by smoke detectors and before jumping out the window tried waking up Cummings.

He escaped down a stairway but was driven back by intense heat rising up from the floor below.

Raymer also said the cause was not known but they do not suspect foul play.

He said locating the source of the fire was made more difficult by the damage being so extensive.

''We may never know given the building is pretty much demolished,'' Raymer said.

Elkins, who has already lost two sisters and a brother this year, said Cummings was a bartender for about the past 10-years at the FOP.

''We've had a really rough six or seven months now,'' said Elkins, who retired from police work in June.