Flames Engulf East Chicago (IN) Convent Roof; 100-Year-Old Building to be Demolished

Firefighter

Anna Ortiz

The Times, Munster, Ind.

(MCT)

Oct. 17—EAST CHICAGO — Flames engulfed the roof of an East Chicago convent late Friday, causing firefighters to battle the fire for hours into the next morning.

Crews battled heavy fire on the top portion of the convent of St. Stanislaus Church at 808 W. 150th St. from 10:30 p.m. Friday into the early morning hours of Saturday.

The Rev. John Siekierski, who lives in the rectory just feet away from the building, said he was alerted by a parishioner and came out to see the convent aflame.

“There were several firetrucks,” Siekierski said. “The firefighters did a great job. … Someone from the parish called me about it. I was in my house at the time. Then I went out to see it next door, just feet away.”

Siekierski said the building has been unused for 12 years, and no one was injured in the fire. The three other buildings on the campus — the rectory, school and church — were not affected.

Gary firefighters came to the aid of East Chicago crews, said Gary Fire Department Chief Sean O’Donnell.

Siekierski said the fire started in the attic and believes it was sparked by an electrical problem.

“It burned off the roof and the attic,” he said.

The damaged building is now set to be torn down, he said. Siekierski, who has served the church for 25 years, said the convent was built in the 1920s and at one time housed 22 nuns. The parish was founded in 1900 and the church was built in 1913, which is still in use.

This wasn’t the first time a building was destroyed in a fire at St. Stanislaus’ campus. A school built in the 1920s burned down in 1958 and a new one was built in 1961 on the property, which is used to this day, he said.

The East Chicago Fire Department did not respond to The Times’ inquiries.

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