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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, September 01, 2018 1:00 am

Fire kills Whitley resident in home

Columbia City victim 'not recognizable'

Journal Gazette

One person is dead after a house fire early Friday in Columbia City, and it could take at least a week before the individual is identified, officials said.

The Columbia City Fire Department was sent to the 900 block of East Van Buren Street and Peabody Avenue about 12:15 a.m. Friday.

When firefighters arrived, the house was engulfed. Firefighters from Columbia and Thorncreek township fire departments also assisted.

It took firefighters about three hours to bring the blaze under control, a news release said. The state fire marshal's office is investigating the cause of the fire.

It's the first fire fatality in decades in Columbia City, Mayor Ryan Daniel said in a statement.

Whitley County Coroner Randy Dellinger said the body recovered “was not recognizable.”

The cause of death was smoke inhalation and thermal injuries, based on the burns, he said.

Dellinger said the Indiana State Police laboratory in Fort Wayne will help with the identification, based on DNA verification.

He expects it will take a week to get results back.