Lake Maxinkuckee Its Intrigue History & Genealogy Culver, Marshall, Indiana

Lakeshore Garage Burns  



It was located at 700 Lake Shore Drive

Headlines and sub-headlines of papers declared:

Fire Wipes Out 3 Culver Firms

Volunteer Firemen battle huge blaze at Culver

Damages Reaches $100,000

Culver Fire Damage Set At $100,000


Fire destroyed a building Monday in Culver that housed area businesses and acted as storage for others:
  • Enco Service Station
  • Randy's Body Shop
  • Alvin R. McKee - tools, equipment, personal items
  • Wayne Hittle - building, store fixtures
  • Leanord Richard's 2 Race cars and tools
  • Don Stubb's - pay loader
  • Bob Albert - a race car and tools
  • Leon Bennett - a garden tractor
  • Pearl Onesti - A Jeep Cherokee
  • William Snyder - Ice and chest freezer


The building was owned by Wayne Hittle, mayor of Rochester, Indiana.

The fire was battled by six fire departments:
  • Culver -Union Township
  • Aubbeenaubbe twp. (Leiters Ford)
  • Plymouth
  • Argos
  • Monterey
  • La Paz


The fire was fanned by the high wind off of Lake Maxinkuckee.

The fire spread rapidly and was triggered by several explosions from paint, paint thinner and other substances in the building. Thus causing it to spread rapidly throughout the building.

Damage was estimated at $100,000 by David Burns Culver Fire Chief, saying the exact cause had not been determined but could of been caused by:
  • A heater
  • An overhead heater in the rear of the building
  • a fire near a furnace in the center of the building spreading to the attic
were listed as being the cause of the fire. Whether it was ever fully determined what caused it is not known.

News articles appeared in the South Bend Tribune, Plymouth Pilot, Culver Citizen and the Indianapolis Star. It was broadcasted on WTCA radio Station of Plymouth. Also probably the TV-stations from South Bend were down.

My aunt Norma Emery came from Plymouth after hearing it on the WTCA news and she said you could see the hugh black cloud of smoke; enroute from Plymouth.

Power in the northern section of Culver along the lakefront was out for about two or three hours. Phone service in the area was also out. Lakeshore Drive was closed off during the blaze.

The fire was discovered about 11:20 a.m. Alvin Mc Kee, operator of the service station, Larry "Peanuts" Lowery, came in and said that there appeared to be a fire in the top of the building and that five people were in the building at the time. The phone was not working in the building and the call for help had to be placed from Bennett's Plumbing and Heating by Glen Doll.

The five people were:
  • Alvin McKee
  • Reba McKee
  • Randy Walters
  • Larry Lowery
  • Unknown
and also shortly before making daily deliveries of the vending machines and oil was owner Wayne Hittle of Rochester ; as well as the Coke-Cola delivery man Max Schuh of Plymouth.

Alvin McKee and Randy Walters in the meantime tried to control or get the blaze out with hand fire extinguishers but their efforts were not successful .

The building is located at Liberty St. and Lakeshore Drive [now Osborn's Mini Mart]. it was just one block from the fire department but the fire had spread throughout the building by the time the fireman arrived. - who were coming into town for their lunch hour. After arriving on the fire scene - David Burns sent his men to the station for equipment and sent a call out from the other surrounding fire departments. They all stayed on the scene until the fire was brought under control. Being praised by Culver fire chief for their quick response to Culver 's aide after being called. The Culver department was able to set up enough water lines in the first few minutes to keep water on the threatened houses and at the same time spray the burning building and keep the four vent pipes at the end of the building cooled.

Only sections of the brick walls remained after the blaze.

For a time, the fire threatened the near by houses and residents the Keith Soales and Terry Shrek families. One housed the base radio station for the town marshall's office in the rear if the house, the part closest to the fire and radio equipment was removed and later set up at a different location. Furniture was also moved out and placed on the sidewalk. Heat, smoke and water damage were suffered by the homes.

The intense heat from the fire cracked the plate glass window of Bennett's Plumbing and Heating which faced the burning building; as well as damaged incurred by smoke and water.

The Culver Firemen responding that day were: David Burns, Donavan Overmyer, Bill Wagner, Don Stubbs, Leon Bennett, Ray Houghton, Bill Martin, Lance Overmyer, Alvin Triplet, Sam Schrimsher, Bob Curtis; also pitching in were members of the community, area business men, and town employees. Of course RIchard "Woody" woodward, police chief directed trafific in the area.







 
These were the four vent pipes to the four 2000 gallon underground gasoline tanks. Which had just been filled and nearly full



west half of the building visible iss first the ladies , then mens estroom doors; the ofifice window; 1st sales room door, followed by window & 2nd sales room door; and finally the storage room window where oil products were stored & advertsing signs.


Liberty Street view

in car Alvin Mc Kee; back of unknown; building to left is Bennett's the plate glass window facing the East towards the garage cracked under the intense heat from the fire.


Richard "Woody" Woodward, Chief of Police



David Burns, Fire Chief, walking; backs of Reba and Alvin Mc Kee;
2 firefighters - unknown



most unknown; Larry "Peanuts" Lowery, with mailbag;



mom's sister said the thick black smoke could be seen as far away as Plymouth and especially from the West High School corner on State Rd. 17



backs of Homer and Essie Kemple



unknown and Richard "Woody" Woodward, Chief of Police. starting to move the contents of the house out just in case...



assembly line has been formed and the moving the contents of the house out just in case...











Lance Overmyer, in middle; background all unknown; at back edge of fire truck partial hidden David Burns, Fire Chief



gathering up equipment fire is out, just smoldering...























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