INDIANAPOLIS – Days after a massive fire consumed a warehouse on the near west side, questions remain about a sprinkler system on site and the cause of the fire.
Federal investigators were able to clear large piles of debris on Wednesday to get closer to the spot where the fire started. The investigators, local authorities and excavators were on site as was a small business owner who spoke with Fox 59 about his loss.
“(I lost) every business contact I made over the last eight years and every job I’ve done, every bid,” said Nick Allender, the owner and founder of BNA Painting, who said he lost the majority of his tools, paperwork and some personal effects in the fire.
“All of his children’s birth certificates, social security cards and his personal information (are gone),” said Crystal Currie, a BNA Painting employee.
Crews are carefully working to scene so they don’t disturb evidence or any possible toxins that can become airborne. Crews are working shifts to limit possible exposure.
“It came back positive for the roofing and the pipes,” said Gary Coons, the Indianapolis Department of Homeland Security Chief, about asbestos that was found in the warehouse and burning debris.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management also released information about several violations in 2012 that were issued to Nationwide OTR, a tire recycling company on site. A more recent inspection was completed this month, but the results were not available on Wednesday.
Also, in 2007, a fire marshal with the Indianapolis Fire Department gave the property owner a long list of safety concerns after an inspection claimed the sprinkler system was not adequate enough to tackle a fire because of what was being stored in the warehouse. The owner was identified as Keith Sharp. He wrote an email back promising corrections.
An IFD spokesperson could not comment on the most recent status of the sprinkler system.
“Luckily, I was on the road working and had some of my tools with me. If they had all been in there, we would have been shut down and out of business right now,” said Allender.
The EPA has been working with the Marion County Public Health Department to be sure the air quality in the area is safe. Results released on Wednesday reveal no presence of asbestos fibers in the air during the fire near the scene over a period of hours.
The EPA expedited the asbestos results, but its full report isn’t yet available. The agency also tested for two other potentially hazardous substances.