Fire chief's home destroyed in blaze

Photo by Jon GardAn investigator inspects the charred remains of the home of Kevin and Amy Bluhm on Tuesday morning in Stillwell.

STILLWELL — Pleasant Township Fire Chief Kevin Bluhm and wife Amy, still covered in soot Tuesday morning and standing in front of what was left of their burned out home, said they were not used to being fire victims.

“It’s different,” Kevin Bluhm said. “We usually roll up the hoses and go home, but not this time.”

No one was injured in the fire, reported at about 2 a.m.

The brick house, more than 100 years old, is about 50 feet from the Pleasant Township Volunteer Fire Department on Ind. 104.

Firefighters from seven departments responded to the call.

A preliminary investigation shows the fire may have been electrical in nature, according to La Porte Fire Chief Andy Sndyer. A space heater may have overloaded wiring inside a kitchen wall leading to the second floor, he said.

Pleasant Township asked the city to investigate the cause of the blaze, Snyder said.

Amy Bluhm, an emergency medical technician and volunteer firefighter, said she and her husband woke to the sound of their dog barking, “and he never barks for anything,” she said.

Both the dog and two cats were rescued from the fire without injury.

Kevin Bluhm, a mechanic marking his 32nd year as a volunteer firefighter, said he ran downstairs to see the couch on fire and grabbed the animals as his wife called 911. Then they joined in the effort to contain the fire. 

Friends continued to arrive at the scene to offer their support Tuesday.

The couple, whose children are grown, have lived in house more than two years. They had already been in contact with their insurer and the American Red Cross and were planning to spend the night in a hotel, they said.

In addition to Pleasant Township and La Porte, fire departments responding to the call included Scipio Township, Kankakee Township, Lincoln Township, Walkerton and Kingsbury.

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