Wednesday, January 21st, 2009
By Margie Wuebker
Auglaize blaze results from domestice dispute
  A blaze, apparently started in the wake of a domestic altercation, destroyed at Minster-area cottage Tuesday morning. Six fire departments from Auglaize and Shelby counties braved cold wind chill temperatures to fight the fire.
Shelby County Sheriff's deputies responded to the home of Joshua R. Coleman and Abby Niekamp, 12522 Maple Grove Road, after receiving a 911 call at 4:15 a.m.
Nineteen-year-old Coleman had been drinking and demanded his car keys, according to Sheriff Dean Kimpel. Niekamp refused to hand them over and he reportedly punched her in the face repeatedly. She lost her balance and fell to the floor, where the assault allegedly continued with numerous kicks.
Niekamp managed to flee the house and seek assistance from a neighbor. She later was taken by ambulance to Joint Township District Memorial Hospital in St. Marys but no information regarding her condition was available due to patient privacy regulations.
Coleman told authorities he turned on the kitchen range after his girlfriend left and began tossing her clothing on the flame. He subsequently fled on foot as flames spread.
Deputies responding to the location southeast of Minster spotted flames and called in the Minster-Jackson Township Fire Department. Following footsteps in the snow, they located Coleman a quarter mile away on East Shelby Road. He reportedly offered no resistance.
"The year-round cottage was pretty well engulfed when we arrived on the scene," Minster Fire Chief Dale Dues told The Daily Standard. "The fire was already through the roof."
Firefighters initially used Class A foam to extinguish the flames and brought in water by the tanker full. They remained on the scene until noon putting out hot spots and doing cleanup work.
Dues said more than 50 firefighters and 10 trucks - many of them tankers - came to the scene. In addition to Minster, responding departments included New Bremen, Chickasaw, Osgood, New Knoxville-Van Buren Township and Anna. Neighboring Fort Loramie Fire Department was in the process of responding when firefighters were diverted to a barn fire at the Ken Pleiman farm on Dawson Road, southeast of Fort Loramie.
The one-story, frame cottage owned by Abby's father, Tim Niekamp of New Bremen, is expected to be ruled a total loss.
Coleman appeared in Sidney Municipal Court on Tuesday on a domestic violence charge. He was subsequently released on bond although Kimpel said additional charges are likely once Shelby County arson investigators complete their reports.
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