News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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July 4, 2014

UPDATE 2: Fire official says one man dies in overnight Deming Center fire

TERRE HAUTE — One man is dead after an overnight fire at the Deming Center, a low-income housing facility in downtown Terre Haute.

The fire, which was contained to a single apartment on the third floor, remains under investigation, said Terre Haute Fire Department Fire Chief Jeff Fisher. The cause of the man’s death was unconfirmed as of Friday, but was likely a result of the blaze, the chief said. More should be known next week after an autopsy, he said.

Fire crews were called to the scene about midnight and remained until about 2 a.m., Fisher said. The fire was out by the time emergency responders arrived, the chief said.

Douglas Slusser, who lives in the apartment next door to the one in which the fire took place, said he heard noises coming from the apartment late Thursday night. Slusser said he and his wife, Adonia, and their small dog were evacuated by emergency responders about midnight and remained outside for a couple of hours.

“We got to know him,” Slusser said of the man, age 61, who died. “He was a nice guy. Well mannered.”

The man, whose identity has not yet been released, lived in the Deming Center for about 12 years, Slusser said. Chief Fisher said the man apparently recently had shoulder surgery.

The Slussers and other residents of Deming Center, which has about 109 apartment units, remained outside across the street from the building after being evacuated, Slusser said.

A slight smell of burned material was still noticeable on the third floor this morning. The carpet on the hall outside the apartment was stained black, likely from the tracks of emergency officials entering and leaving the apartment.

Three windows from the apartment, which faced east, were broken out. It was not known whether firefighters broke the windows to improve ventilation or if the windows broke due to heat from the fire, Fisher said.

The Deming Center is managed by the Terre Haute Housing Authority. The Authority’s board of directors recently sold the eight-story building, opened in 1914, to Indianapolis-based Core Redevelopment, which plans to renovate the historic structure into modern housing.

Residents of Deming Center are expected to move to Warren Village, a new Housing Authority property, later this year or in early 2015. Warren Village is on North 25th Street.

Because Deming Center is a high-rise, two ladder trucks were dispatched to the scene, Fisher said. There were also four fire engines, a paramedic unit and several other fire officials and police on scene, he said.

Return to for more on the fire as details emerge. See Saturday’s Tribune-Star for a full report.


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