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cause of fatal fire probed

Wednesday, May 02, 2018 16:19 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

An 81-year old man died in a house fire Tuesday between LaPorte and Michigan City.

Charlie Putchaven was found deceased in his upstairs bedroom, said LaPorte County Coroner Bob Cutler.

Cutler said it was not known if he was in bed when the fire broke out or made any attempt to get out.

''The fire was so severe, it was hard to tell,'' Cutler said.

The late Tuesday morning fire in the 5600 block of W. 300 North produced what police described as ammunition going off.

Kathy McGowan said she heard what sounded like fireworks discharging from her home just down the road then saw fire trucks.

''It wasn't steady. It was just popping here and there,'' she said.

Richard Copner , a next door neighbor, said Putchaven was no longer in good physical shape.

The past few years, Copner said he went there almost every day to mow his yard and do other things like bring him something to eat.

''Just last night I went to get him a couple of sandwiches and he always wanted a large vanilla milkshake,'' Copner said.

Copner and members of his family urged him to go to a nursing home because of his declining health, but he refused.

They said Putchaven was on oxygen and still smoked.

His cousin, Sue Satoski, said she regularly checked on him while heading to her home five minutes away off Joliet Rd. after finishing her shift as a nurse in the Michigan City area.

''He needed to be out of here,'' she said.

Rose Copner said Putchaven got around pretty well until a few years ago then in recent months rapidly declined.

She described him as a bit ''crotchety'' yet friendly to her and her husband

''Chuck had a heart of gold. He may have been rough around the edges but he had a heart of gold. He really did,'' Satoski said.

Cause of death was ruled from smoke inhalation and thermal burns, according to LaPorte County Police.

The Indiana State Fire Marshal's Office will investigate to try and determine the cause of the fire, police said.
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