Fire destroys home in Vevay, family members are safe


A late night fire on Saturday night at a home on Pike Street in Vevay resulted in a total loss the structure, but thankfully the family living in the residence escaped without injury.

Chris See of Jeff-Craig Fire and Rescue said that the fire call came into the department at approximately 10:30 p.m. Saturday night, and firefighters were at the scene shortly thereafter.

“The report was that there was a family inside of a burning building,” Chris See said. “Upon our arrival, we were able to set up command and seeing that it was a fully engulfed structure, assistance was called in from the Moorefield and East Enterprise departments.

The Robert Konkle family, who was living in the home, was able to get out after Shawn Quigley of Vevay, passing by the scene, alerted the family to the house fire in time for them to escape.

“The family told us that Shawn Quigley threw a rock through the window and entered the house and woke everyone up,” Chris See said. “There were six people in the house at the time of the fire.”

Chris See said that the fire started on the outside of the building before working its way into the first floor and then to the attic. Officials from the Indiana Fire Marshal’s office are investigating the fire; and Chris See reported that witnesses have provided information about the possibility of people being in the vicinity of the house near the time the fire started.

Someone shooting off fireworks is a possibility; but nothing is known until the Fire Marshal completes his investigation.

“We’re looking at a bunch of different leads as to how it may have started,” Chris See said.

Chris See said that on the east side of the structure, which was Riggs Grocery Store in the past, demolition had begun on the old storefront. Chris See said that investigators believe that the fire started in that area, then climbed the structure and got into the voids in the walls.

“They had working smoke detectors, but at the time Shawn entered the house and alerted them, the smoke hadn’t entered the house yet, so the detectors hadn’t gone off,” Chris See said. “Robert Konkle said that it wasn’t long after he opened up the door and got the family out that the place had fire and smoke inside the structure.”

Firefighters continued fighting the blaze, getting it under control at about 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Chris See said that firefighters had to return on a couple of occasions on Sunday to put down some ‘hot spots’.

“We really had a lot of trouble fighting it because it was an older house and it had several ceilings in it and it had a tin roof that had already been hot and compromised, so we were unable to get people onto the roof,” Chris See said.

Firefighters returned on Sunday to battle some pop up fires that resulted from the insulation in the walls.

“Some of the insulation was smoldering, and based on the integrity of the house, we decided to wait until daylight to come in and finish knocking it out for the safety of our firefighters, because the house was a total loss anyway,” Chris See said.

The department did use its new aerial truck at the scene. Chris See said because the house was so tall, the use of the aerial truck “changed the course” of fighting the fire, and allowed the family some time to get some belongings out of the house.

The house structure was a total loss, and Chris See said that the Red Cross was at the scene to help the family get squared away after the fire. There was no other damage to any of the surrounding structures.

Along with Jeff-Craig Fire and Rescue, responding to the scene were the Moorefield Fire Department, East Enterprise Fire Department, Switzerland County EMS, the Vevay Police Department, and the Switzerland County Sheriff’s Department.

“If I had to guess, I’d say there was somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 emergency responders at the scene,” Chris See said.

Chris See said that if anyone has any information about the fire or how it may have started, they should contact the Vevay Police Department at 427-3737; or they can send a letter to Jeff-Craig Fire and Rescue at P.O. Box 152, Vevay, Indiana, 47043.

“If they want to write up what they saw and send it to us, that would be helpful in the investigation.” Chris See said.