INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A large fire ignited at a warehouse on the east side of Indianapolis Tuesday evening, but crews dealt with issues at the scene beside the fire itself.
Officials say drivers disregarded road blocks and damaged Indianapolis Fire Department equipment as firefighters worked to put out the massive fire.
About 70 firefighters were called to the blaze at the Advanced Restoration building in the 100 block of S. Sherman Dr. near Washington St. at about 6:42 p.m. It took four hours for the main fire to be put out and crews remained at the scene overnight to put out additional hot spots.
Officials say the building was unoccupied when the fire broke out, but employees had been working inside during normal business hours on Tuesday.
"In this particular case it was a second alarm fire so they (investigators) were called automatically. If not, they get called anyway because they want to put eyes on the structure, talk to employees that work here, see what may have happened here today," said Battalion Chief Rita Reith.
Reith said it will take some time before anyone can get inside, if at all, due to the amount of damage and the partial collapse of the structure.
"Not knowing everything that was inside the structure, I would say that if you live in this area and are worried about the smoke, just shelter in place and shut your windows," Reith added.
The fire burned for several hours and sent large plumes of smoke into the air.
Officials delayed the passing of a nearby CXS passenger train on the set of tracks south of the building as firefighters tackled the flames from above and from the ground.
Indianapolis Fire Department (IFD) set up several road blocks to give crews additional space around the building. According to a news release from IFD, multiple drivers disregarded the blockings, went around department apparatus and drive over hydrant supply lines.
One driver "completely damaged" the hose, according to the release, requiring the hydrant to temporarily shut down to replace the line. Officials say the driver got out of his vehicle and became verbally aggressive towards the crew.
A second driver drove through a completely empty parking lot across from the scene and t-boned and IFD photographer's parked vehicle. Thankfully, IFD says the photographer was not inside but his vehicle sustained significant damage.
The driver told officials he wasn't paying attention and claimed he blacked out.
Officials advise anyone passing near these scenes to head instructions and road blocks to avoid complications at active scenes.