INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — More than 30 hours later, hot spots are still smoldering at the warehouse on the west side. The fire broke out at 1 p.m. Saturday on Belmont Avenue and Oliver Street.
Flames and plumes of smoke coming from the 440,000-square foot building could be seen for miles. Some neighbors evacuated as tires, wood pallets, shingles and sidings burned. At least 30 propane tanks were reported to have exploded.
The rain overnight helped crews quite a bit. IFD has narrowed down to two aerial ladders to put out flare-ups as of Sunday night. However, the big challenge continues to be the recycled tires piled eight to ten feet high. The burnt tires are also exposing crews to toxic chemicals inside.
“It just looks like a big trash pile. Everything has caved into the middle,” said Rita Burris, an IFD spokesperson. “We’ve been unable to deem it safe enough to actually get in heavy equipment. It just may take a little longer than we expected.”
Firefighters are unable to determine damage costs, but Burris estimates it could rack up in the millions. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting IFD in the investigation as they work to find out the cause of the fire.
“It has to be deliberate because there are lives at stake,” said Dave Coulson, an ATF spokesperson. “We want to get in when it’s safe to do so and try to eliminate all causes.”
Officials could not confirm if the old building had a fire suppression system. The Department of Code Enforcement will be back on scene to determine whether the building will be demolished.
ATF is asking anyone with information or video that may help in their investigation to call Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS.