Fire investigators in Elkhart continue to keep a close eye on two recent blazes.
On Tuesday an unidentified woman contacted the department, saying she knew what caused an apartment building and laundromat at Franklin and Union Streets, to go up in flames.
The fire, which broke-out last Tuesday around 6:30 a.m., sent two women and a man to the hospital with burns.
Investigators found a gas can and two propane torches in a downstairs unit, but until now had no witnesses willing to talk. Inspector Robert Smith said he planned to meet with the anonymous tipster by the end of the week.
Meantime, a Sept. 30 scorcher that burnt three buildings along East St., including the Lifeline Youth Center for Christ, has hit a standstill.
Div. Chief Kent Stouder said he’s determined the fire’s point of origin to be the former Tony’s Shoe Shop; a structure so badly damaged, there's little to no evidence left behind.
A few years back, Adam Brinckman, 38, purchased the dilapidated property for $3,700 in the Elkhart County tax sale. A neighborhood resident, who did not want to be identified, told NewsCenter 16, Brinckman was known for cooking methamphetamine at night.
Inspectors want to hire a backhoe to sift through the rubble for evidence, but there's not enough money in the bureau's cash-strapped budget to do so. Stouder said insurance companies oftentimes will foot that cost; not the case here. If nothing changes, firefighters fear the suspicious blaze will go unsolved.
As of Tuesday, all three victims in the East St. fire were still hospitalized at the St. Joseph Hospital Burn Center in Fort Wayne. Brian Higginbotham, 39, is in critical condition on a ventilator in an induced coma. His wife Sherry Higginbotham, 45, is also in critical condition. Robert Nicodemis is in stable condition. Damage between all three structures is around $395,000.
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