Portage, IN- By Bill Dolan and John Scheibel, Northwest Indiana Times -City fire and NIPSCO officials are investigating the cause of apparent natural gas explosions that blew a local man’s mobile home wide open.
Colonel Colvin, 84, of 258 Sandalwood, was being treated Saturday night at the University of Chicago Hospital for second-degree burns over his face, arms and legs from the blast that severely damaged his home.
Portage Fire Chief Bill Lundy declined Saturday to release the name of a Portage firefighter who fell and suffered a chest injury at the scene. The firefighter was taken to Porter Portage Hospital Campus, treated and released Saturday morning.
“Everyone heard the bang. It rattled our windows and woke us up,” said Connie A. Severn, who lives two blocks from the mishap in the Oak Tree Village Mobile Home Park.
Sgt. Keith Hughes, public information officer for the Portage Police Department, issued a news release saying police and firefighters were called to Oak Tree at 7:25 a.m. by neighbors who already were fighting flames with garden hoses and fire extinguishers.
Neighbors reported hearing two blasts that left the roof and walls of Colvin’s home pushed outward. They found the man conscious outside the ruined structure. Emergency workers airlifted him to the Chicago hospital.
Firefighters from Ogden Dunes, Burns Harbor and South Haven assisted Portage and put out the fire by 8:30 a.m.
Hughes said a natural gas leak is a possible cause.
“It appeared that the fire was contained to the area near the gas meter. The cause of the explosion is currently under investigation by the Portage Fire Department,” Hughes said.
Jeff Roseboom, an investigator for the state fire marshal, on Saturday said, “We will work with the locals to determine the cause and origin. If necessary, we will bring NIPSCO in to determine whether it was their fault or the homeowner’s.”
Larry Graham, a NIPSCO spokesman, on Saturday confirmed the company also is conducting an investigation.