INDIANAPOLIS — A man has been arrested for arson following a fire Indy’s near east side that put an IFD firefighter into a coma.
IFD announced Wednesday that Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and IFD crews arrested 32-year-old Jasper Vales for his involvement in the intentionally set fire.
Indianapolis Fire Department crews were called around 3:50 p.m. to the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Rural Street for a vacant residence that was on fire.
Upon arrival, 12 IFD crews found a single-story building showing heavy black smoke. The fire was put out around 4:15 p.m.
One IFD fireman was taken to Eskenazi Hospital to be evaluated after complaining of a “heat-related injury,” IFD said. While in the ER, his condition worsened and he was put into a medically-induced coma.
The fireman remained in the coma for 48 hours, IFD said. He was showing significant improvement as of Wednesday afternoon; IFD said he has been released from the hospital and is recuperating at home. It’s not clear when he’ll be able to return to full duty.
“Investigators are awaiting additional charges to be filed by the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office for the crime of Arson,” IFD said.
Tawnya Tiplick is the owner of Tipsy T’s, a liquor store that neighbors the arsoned home.
”On Sunday, I noticed that the back door had been broken open again,” Tiplick said. “This is the second time this has happened.”
Vales is no stranger to Tipsy T’s.
“We took care of Jasper a little bit and cared for him because he is homeless,” Tiplick said. “I think that became a nuisance over time.”
IFD recovered video of the fire and said they were able to connect Vales to the incident.
Tiplick said Jasper came to her business on Monday afternoon with some of his belongings and a mattress with a burn mark.
”He burned it down a few months ago, but it was not nearly this severe it was repairable,” Tiplick said. “So when you go to someplace and try to stay warm that is going to happen.”
IFD and IMPD said Vales is a person of interest in several fires over the last few years.
After the arson, Vales threatened Tipsy T’s employees.
“I’m going to kill you and your family,” Tiplick said Vales threatened. “I’m going to kill everybody in here.”
“We were quite relieved when he was arrested.”
19 arrests were made for arsons in Indianapolis in 2022, IFD said.