In Valparaiso, multiple homes were damaged by fire and two pets reportedly died in the Shorewood Forest subdivision Tuesday afternoon. A large column of black smoke could be seen billowing across U.S. 30. Several area fire departments responded. The National Weather Service said there were elevated fire risk conditions yesterday, and wind is said to have aided in the spread of the fire from the original home, which was a total loss, to others that were damaged by fire. Cause of the fire is unknown. Meanwhile, in Merrillville the Times reports that wind was also a factor in spreading a fire from a garage to a home on West 83rd Avenue. There were no reports of injuries.