MICHIGAN CITY — The swift action of construction crews pouring cement on a nearby street. It may have saved the lives of a woman, a 4-year-old boy and a dog in a mobile home set on fire in what police suspect was arson.
However, Pat O’Brien, a 67-year-old construction worker from Michigan City, said he doesn’t think of himself or his colleagues as heroes.
“I don’t know that,” he said. “I think instinct takes over. We just do whatever we have to do.”
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Michigan City Fire Department spokeswoman Tia Free said firefighters responded about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Dunewood Village mobile home community on 212 Indiana Road on the far east side of the city. Someone called to report that the accommodation was on fire.
Before firefighters arrived, O’Brien said he and two crew members were pouring cement and heard glass breaking. Smoke and fire were then seen rising from a single mobile home.
He said they ran over and started shouting in hopes of attracting the attention of anyone who might be inside. They also opened the front door to try to get in, he said, but were driven away by intense heat and thick smoke.
O’Brien said they started banging windows out of the house and continued to scream when they heard sounds like someone was inside the house.
He said half of the houses had burned down. The flame was about 10 feet high. Suddenly, a woman came near one of the broken windows.
The man reached over and grabbed her and carried the woman out of the window behind the broken house.
Moments later, O’Brien said, A very frightened-looking boy with soot on his face walked up to another shattered window not far away. The worker also guided him through the hole in the window frame.
After the boy nodded his head that he was thirsty, O’Brien said, he ran to his truck and grabbed a bottle of water for him to drink.
“He was shocked, I’m sure,” O’Brien said. “He was shaking pretty well.”
The dog was also rescued through a broken window, O’Brien said.
The firefighters arrived soon after.
“If we wait for the fire brigade I don’t think they will succeed,” O’Brien said.
Free said 77-year-old Sandra Root was airlifted from Franciscan Health in Michigan City to a combustion unit in Fort Wayne.
Free said the boy was treated at a local hospital for undisclosed minor injuries and was later released.
The boy’s name was not disclosed.
Authorities said the unharmed dog was being held by Michigan City Animal Control.
The mobile home is a total loss.
“There’s not much left,” Free said. “It’s gone quite a distance by the time we get there.”
according to the police The preliminary investigation found that the source of the fire was deliberately ignited. Police did not clarify how they believed the fire started.
Detectives and local law enforcement investigators from the fire department are working together on the case, police said.
The Michigan City Police Department asks local residents to check home surveillance cameras for footage of suspects or suspicious activity.
The length of time for the video to be reviewed was from about 7am that day until the fire was reported.
Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to contact Detective Sgt. Melissa Sopher at (219) 874-3221, ext. [email protected]
Police can also be contacted via Facebook Messenger and the department’s crime hotline at (219) 873-1488.
“You can always remain anonymous,” said Lt. Steve Westfal, the department’s Professional Standards Division commander.
This article originally appeared on South Bend Tribune: Workers Save Women, Children, Dogs from Fire. Investigators suspect arson.