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Man dies after house fire on city's northwest side; pregnant wife escapes

Firefighters responded to the scene of a house fire around 3:30 a.m. Friday in the 5000 block of Alameda Road near 52nd Street and Kessler Boulevard on Indianapolis' northwest side.

An expectant mother is mourning the loss of her husband in a house fire Friday. The couple woke up in the early morning hours to flames at their home in the 5000 block of Alameda Road. That's near 52nd and Kessler Boulevard on the Indianapolis northwest side.

Update: The family has set up a GoFundMe account to help Kat Zuhlke and her child

Kat Zuhlke returned to her family's home this afternoon, which was heavily damaged in the early morning fire. She managed to escape, but her husband, Steve Zuhlke, died.

Firefighters pulled him out of the home. He was transported to Eskenazi Health in critical condition. Zuhlke later succumbed to his injuries. His wife was evaluated at the hospital but was not seriously injured.

"I just heard a couple loud booms," said neighbor Jim Dewes. "I woke up and saw orange out my window. There were flames shooting out of the house, really high out of the garage."

Witnesses told Eyewitness News that power lines near the home were sparking.
The fire is still under investigation. Pike Township firefighters know that it started in the kitchen, but they are still trying to figure out how it started. They took Kat Zuhlke back inside Friday to retrieve some of her personal belongings. 

Zuhlke managed to escape through a master bedroom window. She broke out a back window to rescue her husband, but could not do so.

The sad news eventually reached their neighbor Robert Cook, who comforted her with a hug.  

"I just ran outside to see what was going on and the place was engulfed. Obviously I was in shock because I just seen him yesterday. When they said that he was still in there and had not come out yet and then I got the word that he didn't make it," said Cook.

Family and friends helped salvage what belongings they could from the house as restoration crews worked all afternoon boarding up. 

The mother and her unborn baby are expected to be okay. She is staying with relatives.

Firefighters say the home did not have working smoke detectors.

Steve Zuhlke He was a 20-year member of Murat Shriners and had a passion for serving sick children being treated Shriners Hospitals. Other Shriners describe Steve as one of their hardest-working volunteers. 

Steve and his wife Kat first child is due to deliver in just two weeks. In a statement, the Shriners said he "could not wait to be a father. He was one of the Murat's hardest workers, promoting our Hospital philanthropies and the Fraternity.  The Indianapolis community lost a great man today."

A memorial fund is being established for Kat Zuhlke and their unborn child.  All contributions can be sent to the Steve Zuhlke Memorial Fund at PO Box 936, Crawfordsville, IN 47933