Blaze destroys early-1800s home

By Paul Bird
December 11, 2002

Johnson County, IN - Banta, a dog trained to locate accelerants climbed through the charred rubble of a pioneer-era home destroyed by fire Tuesday in the hamlet of Banta.
Bargersville Fire Department Battalion Chief Michael Pruitt said the house in the 7800 block of West Johnson County Road 350 North was a total loss.
"It was insured for half a million dollars," he said. "The loss will be every bit of that."
Investigators are looking closely for the cause of the blaze because of a recent outbreak of arsons at the Kensington Grove subdivision, about 21/2 miles away. Those fires were set during the Thanksgiving holiday in three houses under construction near Stones Crossing and Morgantown roads.
"This home was unoccupied because the owner, Bill Writt, was renovating it and had moved out in September," Pruitt said.
The 8,500-square-foot home was built in the early 1800s, Pruitt said. The wood-framed home had a brick veneer.
The fire was reported to firefighters about 6 a.m.
Fire Chief James White responded from his Bargersville home.
"He could see the glow from the fire in the sky as he left his home," Pruitt said. "That's about five miles."
Fire had spread throughout the building, and parts of the roof's supports had burned away, allowing sections of the roof to collapse by the time firefighters arrived.
About 20 firefighters from Bargersville and White River Township in Johnson County and Harrison Township in Morgan County responded to the alarm.
The dog was brought to the scene by the Anderson Fire Department; however, its search was delayed because of hot spots that made it unsafe.
"We are covering all the bases," Pruitt said. "With the recent fires in the area, we want to look at this close."