Massive fire overtakes warehouse slated for development

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INDIANAPOLIS – A massive fire overtook a vacant manufacturing facility that was of interest to two development teams that wanted to take on the near south side eyesore.
The cause and origin are unknown.

Fire investigators waited to enter the facility Monday because of structural integrity concerns. ATF investigators are expected on site Tuesday, which is the earliest anyone will enter the property. The EPA will conduct air quality monitoring on site as well.

“We heard bangs and things exploding,” said one neighbor.

The four-alarm warehouse fire on Van Buren Street sent embers into the sky and caused a small field fire.

“Parts of the building have collapsed. There are huge piles of debris in there,” said Rita Burris with the Indianapolis Fire Department.

The building once housed Holcomb and Hoke Manufacturing, which closed several years ago.

“My dad said my great grandma worked here in the 1920s,” said Chris Schnepf.

More than $163,000 in delinquent taxes are owed on the property. It also requires a mandatory $2 million environmental cleanup.

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.

“It was sad to see it go out of business, but this is the final chapter of it,” said Barry Browning, a former manufacturing facility employee.

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.

A firefighter who suffered from heat exhaustion while fighting the fire has recovered.

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