MIDDLETOWN, Ind. — An investigation is underway after a Middletown woman and her dog died Saturday afternoon in a house fire.
Chief Brian Rednour of the Middletown Fire Department said the fire was reported just before noon at a home on 9th Street, just north of High Street.
Officials say the victim, a 77-year-old woman, was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to Rednour, Middletown Police Chief Amanda Kirby was in the neighborhood when the fire started. Both Kirby and a neighbor tried to get in the home to help, but the heat and flames were already too intense.
“They shortly exited, and the explosions started,” said Rednour. “There was three before we arrived, and as we were laying out the hydrant, the fourth one happened.”
Neighbor Skyler McDaniel said he was inside his home when he heard what he described as a loud thud.
“I thought it was from inside the house, but then we felt the windows shake.”
McDaniel said he ran out the front door and noticed his neighbor’s home immediately engulfed in flames.
“There was a bunch of people running down the street trying to make our way because we knew, I mean, we knew for sure somebody was there,” said McDaniel.
“I never made it too close to the house because it only took about 30 seconds,” he said. “Before I could even make it around the corner, the house was just an orange ball of heat. You couldn’t go anywhere near it.”
“The whole front of the house was in flames. The whole side and back of the house was engulfed. It was like something I’ve never seen before,” said Ginny Meyer, who lives directly across the street.
“I’m not sure what was inside, but obviously something that caused a couple of explosions,” she said.
Rednour told CBS4 the house was “pretty much a fireball.” He said the gas meter was knocked over and on fire, so crews had to let it burn until the gas company could arrive, dig a hole in the street and cut off the natural gas supply to the home.
“We got close enough we could hit it with our deck gun and that knocked it down some. We could get up there with hand lines,” said Rednour, “but the gas meter had quite big flames, and there was nothing we could do with that.”
He said it would have been an explosion hazard to try and knock down the fire on the gas meter.
Neighbors said the woman was kind, and they often saw her out walking with her dog.
Rednour tells CBS4 the woman’s husband died just a few months ago.
“He was a real sweet man too,” said McDaniel. “He was a big part of the community. Everybody knew him. He always, you know, went down the street walking his dog in his Hoveround chair, and she was always with him.
“They’re reunited, I guess I would say there’s a silver lining to every cloud,” said McDaniel, who recently faced a major personal loss in his family as well.
“It just shows you unexpected things can happen out of nowhere,” he said.
“When we lose someone close to us, it is always that hope that after they’re gone that at some point in time we’ll be reunited, and I’m sure that’s true,” shared Meyer.
Rednour said his department knows the woman and has spoken with her several times since her husband passed away.
“It’s sad because we know everybody basically. It’s a small community,” he said. “The family was there right away, and that’s always tragic how you deal with that.”
Rednour said because of the damaged gas meter, the hands of first responders were tied until the gas could be cut off.
An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the fire.
The victim has been identified as Carol Ann Singer.
Rednour said several other agencies responded for mutual aid, including the Middletown Police Dept., Jefferson Township Fire Dept., Adams Markleville Fire Protection Territory, Harrison Township Fire Dept., and the Prairie Township Fire Dept.