Lakeshore Garage Burns
It was located at 700 Lake Shore DriveFire Wipes Out 3 Culver Firms
Headlines and sub-headlines of papers declared:
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)
- 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
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
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
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
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...