Eaton homeowner blames blaze on outdoor fireplace

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Oct 15, 2013 in Rat News | Subscribe

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EATON — A cookout meant to celebrate the beginning of summer break ended in catastrophe for an Eaton family.

Allen and Dawn Bailey, their 10-year-old daughter Alexa, and one of Alexa’s friends spent Wednesday night eating hot dogs and s’mores around an outdoor fireplace on a back patio, celebrating the end of the academic year that same day.

Around 11 p.m., Allen poured a bucket of water on the fire and the family retired to bed. Four hours later they were awakened by smoke detectors signaling that their house was on fire.

“We were just so happy to get out alive,” Allen Bailey said. “If it wasn’t for the smoke detectors, that wouldn’t have happened.”

Firefighters from Eaton, Hartford City, Gaston and Hamilton Township fought the fire at 3001 E. Delaware County Road 1200-N for more than three hours, but couldn’t save the home, which was built in 1914.

The intense blaze sent Eaton firefighter Neal Hines to IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital for exhaustion.

Eaton fire department investigator Shane Stilts said Thursday he was still working to determine the cause of the fire. But Allen told The Star Press he was fairly certain the outdoor fireplace caught the house on fire.

The fireplace sat about 12 feet away from the house.

On Thursday, the sun tea Allen had set out to brew the day before on the patio railing was about the only thing the family had left.

They had removed some clothes and other belongings from the house to dry out, but weren’t sure what could actually be salvaged.

The Baileys own a neighboring property with a mobile home that they plan on moving into temporarily.

The fire hit 10-year-old Alexa’s room especially hard. And she lost her pet rats, originally named Sugar and Spice, but more recently referred to as Raisin and Peanut.

“All she has that I know of are the clothes on her back,” Allen said.

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