FORTVILLE — A garage fire that spread to an attached home Wednesday night destroyed home- owner E.H. Martin’s classic 1962 Chevrolet Corvette and left his family wondering what to do next.
No one was injured in the fast-moving fire. On Thursday, Martin and his family were picking through the rubble and assessing damage at the home in the 300 block of North Madison Street.
The garage is a total loss, said Martin’s wife, Patricia Martin. The house, which is attached to the garage, also caught fire. Firefighters were able to contain the flames before they spread throughout the two-story residence, but it suffered heavy damage.
In the ruins of the garage Thursday sat the burned-out hulk of Martin’s pride and joy, the Corvette he had owned since 1970. He estimated he had put about $60,000 into the car over the years, handling restoration and repairs himself.
The bright red convertible frequently could be seen at area car shows. Martin, in fact, had driven it to a cruise-in earlier in the evening, his grandson said.
Watching the embers smolder on Wednesday night as members of the Fortville Volunteer Fire Department and other agencies continued to work the scene, the stunned family was joined by several onlookers and neighbors.
“I’m so upset I can’t even cry,” Patricia Martin said at the scene Wednesday night.
Witnesses and neighbors reported that as the fire started about 8:45 p.m., they had heard multiple explosions coming from the garage.
“I think that was a combination of the cars and some propane tanks in the garage,” Fortville Fire Chief Jeff Marshall said. “There was at least one tank that was ruptured.”
The Martins’ grandson, Joshua Cauley, was also in the home when the fire started and was the first one to notice what was going on.
“My grandpa had just come back from the nightly car show, the cruise-in that they have up on Main Street, … and I had just woke up and was walking to talk to my grandparents and looked out the front window and just saw orange glowing out the front window,” he said.
Cauley walked to the front door and immediately saw that one side of the garage was in flames. He called 911. Within moments, the entire garage was burning. In addition to the Corvette, a van and a pickup truck were also destroyed.
Soon, the flames leaped to the house. The family could only watch helplessly.
Marshall said it took 45 minutes to an hour to bring the blaze under control. The Buck Creek Township Fire Department and departments from McCordsville and Ingalls also responded.
“(The fire) destroyed about three quarters of the back wall (of the house) and one room upstairs,” Marshall said. “The house is probably a loss, but a lot of the personal belongings in the house we were able to save.”
The fire department stayed until about 1:30 Thursday morning and was called back at around 2 a.m. to put out hot spots on the porch.
The Martins’ home is just a few blocks from the Fortville Municipal Building, where the fire department is located.
“It always helps,” Marshall said. “The closer it is, the quicker we can get it done, the quicker we can catch it in the evolution.”
Staff writer Kristy Deer contributed to this report.