INDIANAPOLIS, IN--Its been a busy month for Indianapolis fire crews when it comes fires in vacant buildings.
According to a spokesperson in the last 23 days the department has dealt with more than 40 structure fires. At least 20 of those fires have occurred in vacant buildings.
"It’s been a busy month,” public information officer Rita Reith said.
While the colder months tend to bring more vacant fires, Reith says the amount they’ve seen in such a short time is concerning. The fires have also proven to take a toll on firefighters, Reith says so far 7 firefighters have needed to be taken to the hospital.
“We’ve had some other minor injuries, but those seven were pretty significant injuries,” she said.
Rieth says because many vacant homes are not maintained or sometimes even stripped for materials, they can present a higher level of danger for firefighters. However, she says the departments biggest concern lies with those that don’t have a high level of safety training.
“When the houses are not maintained it’s a danger to us, but it’s also a danger to curious kids in the neighborhood, especially on the holiday break. We want to make sure the kids aren’t going in or out of these structures”
Last December, the department saw an unprecedented amount of occupied home fires. Reith says most of those fires were completely preventable. She says many of the vacant structure fires can be prevented too. Which is why the department is now pushing to create awareness with the public to slow down the trend.
“Please report it if you see people going in and out of the boarded-up houses when you know for a fact they shouldn’t be in there…We still want people to be vigilant, we want people to report this activity to IMPD, let them go out, investigate, that way we can get involved with the other city agencies to make sure these houses are secured”