The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Cops, courts and fires

July 15, 2014

Former foster home heavily damaged by fire

Couple cared for nearly 300 children in 16 years

SUMMITVILLE, Ind. -- When a fire destroys a house, memories are destroyed as well. For Dewayne and Tina Presley, losing their house destroyed more memories than most.

The Presley house on the 700 block of Lake Street in Summitville was home to almost 300 people because of a foster program the Presleys ran for 16 years.

"That house has touched close to 300 lives," Dewayne Presley said. "It's pretty tough to see it go like that."

The house, which caught fire in the early morning hours of July 7, was deemed a total loss after an electrical short started the fire in the garage. Although the garage is detached, wind quickly pushed the fire to the nine-bedroom house.

Presley said his 30-year-old daughter was still up at 1 a.m. when the fire started. She smelled the smoke and alerted the six other people in the house to get out. Presley said his family was extremely lucky his daughter still happened to be up.

"She told us she was just about to go to bed," he said. "Another 10 minutes and she might have been asleep when the fire started."

Randy Sizelove, chief of the Summitville Fire Department, said he could see the glow of the fire from his house three miles away when he got the call.

Although the house is a loss, the fire department was able to save the family dog, which Sizelove said they found hiding under a bed. The chief also said the living room and kitchen were left mostly intact thanks to his crew's efforts.

With so many people who had lived in the house at one point, Presley said he has been receiving calls from all over the country from former foster children making sure everyone is all right.

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