Candidate for county auditor loses home hours after losing primary

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The home belonged to Jim Erb, who lost the election for Elkhart County auditor Tuesday night.

Photo: The Elkhart Truth

NEW PARIS, Ind. -- An early morning house fire in New Paris caused extensive damage to a primary candidate's home.

The home belongs to Jim Erb, who ran in Tuesday's primary election for the seat of county auditor.

Erb said he, his wife Cheryl, and his stepson Derek were sleeping when the smoke detectors went off around 2:40 a.m. Derek heard the alarms first and ran downstairs to his parent's bedroom to wake them up.

By the time the family made it back to the ground floor, Cheryl said the house was full of smoke. Erb ran and grabbed a hose to try to douse the flames as his wife ran next door to call 911.

"It's overwhelming," said Cheryl, "I haven't been back in there because every time I go in I get emotional about it."

Firefighters arrived about ten minutes after the call, but according to Erb, it felt like an eternity.

The fire caused extensive damage to the ceiling and back end of their home. The ceilings collapsed in most rooms and the Erbs are unsure as to whether or not it's salvageable.

Erb suspects foul play, but an investigator from the Fire Marshal's office is still investigating.

"I think you got to wonder, common sense would have to say that. I'm not going to point fingers at anyone, but it was a pretty contested race, not very friendly, personable between me and one of the other candidates," said Erb.

State fire marshals have taken over the investigation and a cause has not been determined.

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