MILFORD, Ind. - A blaze that broke out at a Milford auto body shop Thursday morning is the third fatal fire in Michiana within a week. Analu Nunez died in the fire. Her fiance Jose Medina is believed to be dead as well, though positive ID is still pending.
Investigators say the fire was accidental, and traced the source of the fire to faulty wiring for a ceiling light.
It happened at Medina's Body Repair in the 300 block of Higbee Street. That’s near the intersection with Syracuse Street.
The call came in around 7:22 a.m. Thursday when someone leaving work down the street saw smoke and flames and called 9-1-1.
When crews arrived at the scene, they saw heavy smoke coming from the front of the body shop. After surveying the scene, crews saw the roof was sagging and the front wall was pushing out so they fought the fire from the outside.
"During the initial reports, it was reported there was an apartment building that sits on the top side of this building," said Kosciusko County Coroner Michael Wilson. "There was a possibility of a occupied apartment. The fire had advanced to the point it wasn't safe for firefighters to get a total interior attack for search and rescue."
At least four fire departments responded to the blaze.
Gas and other chemicals did pose a problem. Firefighters say they heard several mini explosions.
"By nature, the business has a lot of chemicals in it," said Milford Town Marshall Richard Miotto. "You know, lacquer thinners and paints, a lot of things that are flammable."
Because of the cold temperatures, a large amount of water froze on the ground. Firefighters used salt and sand to help make the area safer.
When it was safe enough for firefighters to enter the building, they found two people dead.