Man Killed in NW Indiana Fire

Fire official says blaze on the 1200 block of East 121st Street was a stubborn one

One man was confirmed dead early Thursday after a fire at a home in Northwest Indiana.

Police on routine patrol in Whiting said they called the fire department when they saw smoking billowing from the home on the 1200 block of East 121st Street at about 3 a.m.

Fire crews were met with flames and smoke pouring from the roof by the time they arrived and immediately went into defensive mode, fighting the flames from the ground and with water sprayed from ladders.

"When my guys pulled up there was a rescue immediately. My guys went in, found the individual in the living room in the middle of the house on a mattress. They pulled him out and unfortunately it became a fatality," said Whiting Fire Department Chief Gus Danielides.

The deceased was identified as 57-year-old Alan Lewandowski. An official cause of death of pending as of 6:45 a.m., but Lake County (Indiana) Coroner Merrilee Frey said he suffered burns and smoke inhalation.

A neighbor said Lewandowski, who suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, had lived with his mother until she passed away a few months ago.

Fire officials said trees and power lines in the area hampered their firefighting efforts and said the fire was a stubborn one because hot spots continued to flare up after they were tampered down.

There was no word as to a cause of the fire by 5 a.m.

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