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Police and fire


Rural Avilla man, 63, feared dead in fierce fire

A fire early Monday destroyed a farmhouse near Avilla and presumably killed the man who lived there, authorities said.

John Trenka, 63, was the only person who resided in the home at 2606 Noble County Road N. 600 E., just south of Indiana 8, county Coroner Joan Cripe said.

Cripe said she presumes Trenka died in the fire but that his remains have not yet been identified. Anyone with information that would help authorities contact Trenka’s relatives is asked to call Cripe at 894-1634.

Capt. Jonathan Harris of the Avilla Fire Department said he and other firefighters were dispatched to the house about 3:40 a.m. “The roads were very, very icy,” Harris said. “It took us about seven minutes to get to the scene due to the road conditions.”

Harris said he could see the glow of the blaze from two to three miles away. He said the fire could have been burning 20 to 30 minutes before his department was called.

Firefighters had to break open a locked gate to the driveway, and when they reached the two-story house, it was collapsing and firefighters could not safely go inside, Harris said.

Along with the house, the fire burned a car, a skid-loader and a tractor. The blaze also caused rounds of ammunition and a propane tank to explode.

A total of five fire departments battled the flames, bringing them under control after about two hours. Firefighters sprayed about 40,000 gallons of water on the fire, enough to fill the basement, Harris said.

The Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating what started the blaze.

“It might be one of those things we never find out,” Harris said. “Nothing’s left.”