New Carlisle business owner dies in house fire near LaPorte

Deadly house fire in the 100 block of Maple Drive near LaPorte // Photo provided by police

A New Carlisle business owner is dead after a house fire Thursday.

It happened in the area known as "the Island." That's near Pine Lake in La Porte County.

67-year-old Charles Mares died at the scene.

It was a little after 8 a.m. that a young boy saw these flames and had his dad call 911.

"It's a hell of a day," said Charles' brother George Mares.

Firefighters found Charles 10 feet from the door.

"He was laying on the floor. It looked like maybe he was trying to make an effort to get out and may have been overcome by smoke," said Captain Mike Kellems of the La Porte County Sheriff's Office.

Firefighters were unable to resuscitate Charles, and he was pronounced dead on scene.

"I used to get mad at him, and he used to get mad at me a lot because we're brothers. It happens, but I'd do anything for him if I could," said George.

Now doing anything means keeping his brother's passion open.

Charles owned Charles Mares Hardware in downtown New Carlisle.

While George worked on funeral plans, his wife worked the cash register at Charles' hardware store.

Hardware stores run in the family. Charles' parents owned one in Chicago. He moved into his parents lake house to open the store in New Carlisle four years ago. It was a home that had been in the family for years.

"We never spent Christmas out here, but we always had Thanksgiving out here," said George.

Now with the home and his brother gone, George wants to keep the shelves stocked.

"We'll see if we can keep it going because that was his store. If I can, I'd like to keep it going for him," said George.

The La Porte County coroner determined the cause of death to be smoke inhalation.

Investigators suspect the fire started in the laundry room and may have been caused by a clothes dryer. Foul play is not suspected.

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