Abandoned warehouse not secure enough for fire investigators to enter

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Engineers have determined several walls in an abandoned warehouse that caught fire will need to be secured or torn down in order for investigators to enter the building.

The four-alarm fire in the building at 1545 E. Van Buren St. sent embers into the sky, prompting a small field fire nearby. At one point, more than 125 firefighters were called to the scene to the battle the fire that started late Sunday night.

Department of Code Enforcement officials continued their evaluation Tuesday of the structural integrity of the building, which closed several years ago and was formally owed by Holcomb & Hoke Manufacturing Co., Inc.

In order for fire investigators to enter the building, engineers said several walls in the warehouse will need to be torn down or secured. Meanwhile, investigators with the Indianapolis Fire Department and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department are conducting their investigative work outside the structure.

Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also were on the scene Tuesday, conducting sampling testing of debris that fell out of the building during the fire.

The warehouse was slated for development and county officials had planned to announce one of two developers as the bid winner on Thursday. The options are a senior living facility or low-income housing.

The property is valued at nearly $307,000. The IFD fire marshal tried and failed twice to inspect the property this year, which has racked up a list of code violations in recent years.