HANCOCK COUNTY – A Fountaintown home was destroyed in a fire that took crews more than four hours to douse Wednesday afternoon.

No one was injured, though seven family pets did not make it out in time.

A passer-by called 911 about 11:30 a.m. after spotting the blaze as he was driving along East U.S. 52.

The home, 37 E. U.S. 52, straddles the Hancock-Shelby county line, just east of New Palestine.

Homeowner Sharon Bronnenberg, who lives alone in the two-story structure, had been running an errand when the fire started, neighbors said. She’d been gone only a short time but returned to find her road was blocked by emergency vehicles.

The woman owned three dogs and four cats that were trapped inside the home and presumed to have died. Firefighters found the body of one dog in the rubble, officials said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, though officials say it appeared to start quickly and spread fast.

The entire east side of the house and its front porch were fully engulfed in flames when the first team of firefighters arrived on the scene Wednesday, officials said. The fire moved rapidly to the roof and overpowered the rest of the structure.

Crews from Fountaintown, Sugar Creek, Greenfield, Morristown, Shelbyville and Indianapolis fire departments were called to the scene. They blocked U.S. 52 between Division Street and Meridian Road, running hoses across the roadway and shuttling water to the scene because there are no fire hydrants in the area.

For hours, they tried battle back flames in the hot sun. Eventually, the roof of the home collapsed, and crews gained control of the fire, Sugar Creek Fire Chief John Begovich said.

By 3 p.m., it was nearly out, though crews remained on the scene for another few hours, investigating and clearing the area.

The home and nearly everything inside was lost. A damage estimate was not available at press time.

The site of clouds of black smoke drew many neighbors out of their homes. They were saddened to see their neighbor — a kind and friendly woman, they said — facing such tragedy.

Bronnenberg lived in the home with her late husband for nearly 20 years, neighbors said.

It was well known in little Fountaintown that the couple loved animals. Their yard was always filled with dogs, and they had horses for a short time. They never hesitated to help any little creature that wandered their way, lost or lonely.

Three dogs and four cats were living with Bronnenberg now and were inside the home with the fire started, friend Keith Fischer said. The woman, who had been ushered from the scene by loved ones, was highly shaken at the thought of their loss, he said.

Firefighters planned to search the debris of the home in hopes of salvaging any the woman’s belongings, Begovich said.

Author photo
Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.