A MAJOR FIRE BROKE OUT in a large, sprawling recycling plant near downtown Indianapolis, Indiana, Saturday afternoon around 1 pm. The fast-growing fire brought units from five other FD's to assist the Indianapolis FD attempt to contain the massive blaze.
One portion of the facility contained 85,000 sq. ft. of stacked tires and another section was packed with wooden pallets awaiting recycling. Throughout the entire operation from the beginning there was a continual stream of explosions from propane tanks. The firefighters worked hard to protect a 500-gal. propane tank.
The firefighters never attempted to enter the premises with the rapid collapse of roof areas and several interior walls going down also. About 60% of the 440,000 sq. ft. facility has been destroyed.
WISH-TV filed this video report in late afternoon before it was under control:
The fire burned out of control for nearly eight hours until it was finally contained and marked under control at 8:45 pm. The fire officials say that they expect to remain on the scene at least until Monday with many small fires burning under the collapse and within the piles of fire load.
It is believed that no employees were in the building when the fire began.
WISH-TV has the STORY.
The Indianapois Star has MORE.
WTHR-TV has more details HERE.
This raw video taken by WISH helicopter runs a little over 11 minutes:
AN INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA, MAN was rescued from his burning home Wednesday afternoon by the firefighters. The unidentified man in his 60's was found unconscious by the search team and brought out of the house suffering from burns and smoke inhalation. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition where he later died from his injuries.
Indianapolis FD photo
The Indianapolis Fire Department spokeswoman said that the fire began around 4 pm in the front part of the house and the victim was found about 10 feet from the rear door.
The well-advanced fire was already through the roof when the first units arrived, but it was knocked down after about an hour and caused approximately $100,000 in damage.
WXIN-TV filed the story plus a video report that includes fire footage HERE.
JAMES E. O'DONNELL, RETIRED FIRE LIEUTENANT and U. S. Navy veteran who was the last surviving crew member from Indianapolis of the USS Indianapolis died yesterday (Wednesday) in Indianapolis at age 92. He served 35 years in the Indianapolis Fire Department.
Lt. O'Donnell was born in Indianapolis in 1922 and graduated from Tech High School in 1938. In 1944 he was drafted into the U. S. Navy and assigned to the USS Indianapolis, one of 1,200 sailors working on the Cruiser. Wikipedia describes the ship:
She served as flagship for Admiral Raymond Spruance while he commanded the Fifth Fleet in their battles across the Central Pacific. She holds a place in history due to the circumstances of her sinking, which led to the greatest single loss of life at sea in the history of the U.S. Navy. On 30 July 1945, shortly after delivering critical parts for the first atomic bomb to be used in combat to the United States air base at Tinian, the ship was torpedoed by the Imperial Japanese Navy submarine I-58, sinking in 12 minutes. Of 1,196 crewmen aboard, approximately 300 went down with the ship.
USS Indianapolis in Pearl Harbor, 1937.
The remaining 900 men faced exposure, dehydration, and shark attacks as they waited for assistance while floating with few lifeboats and almost no food or water. The Navy learned of the sinking when survivors were spotted four days later by the crew of a PV-1 Ventura on routine patrol. Only 317 sailors survived. Indianapolis was the last major U.S. Navy ship sunk by enemy action in World War II.
The few survivors remaining afloat were being picked off by sharks in the ocean and one by one, and "Jimmy" O'Donnell watched his buddies suffering the worst of slow deaths as he wondered if and when he would be next.
Following his return to his home town, Jimmy joined the Indianapolis Fire Department in 1946 and worked the job for 35 years while rising through the ranks to Lieutenant. At the time of his retirement in 1981 he was assigned to Ladder 25.
At a Pearl Harbor day commemoration on December 7, 2009, O'Donnell was honored by the city by having a statue of him in his Navy uniform dedicated at City Market. He had been active for many years in the USS Indianapolis Memorial Organization. On learning of his passing, Mayor Greg Ballard issued a statement:
"Jimmy O’Donnell personified history and service to this country and city. The sinking of the USS Indianapolis is one of the greatest tragedies in U.S. Naval history. The statue of Jimmy in the City Market Plaza honors his service and that of his shipmates.
"As a USS Indianapolis survivor and retired firefighter, Jimmy O’Donnell was an American hero and a great citizen of Indianapolis."
The Indianapolis Star posted this video from a prior interview with Jimmy:
He and his wife, who survives him, had just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on New Year's Eve. One of his grandsons is an Indianapolis firefighter.
Jimmy and Mary Alice O'Donnell at the
unveiling of his statue in 2009. (WRTV)
Update: Cause of explosion still a mystery. Fire Chief says many more homes may have to be torn down. Scroll down.
Update #2: Videos added.
A THUNDEROUS EXPLOSION IN A SOUTH INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, neighborhood Saturday night completely leveled two homes and destroyed two more houses. At least two people are known to have died in the incident that occurred around 11 pm. So far, four eight people have been reported injured, but that count may rise.
The blast typical to a natural gas ka-boom is believed to have been triggered in one of the two houses that were demolished. The blast started fires in several other houses in the neighborhood a people for blocks around are reporting damages and upset furnishings.
Indianapolis Fire Dept. photo
The Indianapolis Fire Department elevated the response to two alarms and had 100 firefighters on the scene. By 12:30 am all of the fires were out.
Indianapolis Fire Department
The gas and electricity have both been shut off in the area while crews look for leaks and check out houses to see if they are safe to return to.
The Lafayette Journal and Courier adds:
Authorities fearing a gas explosion ordered an evacuation that sent residents walking through neighborhood streets and across nearby fields in slippers and pajamas, toting children in blankets, some with pets on leashes, some with their pets left behind. Within an hour, more than 200 people were huddling at the Mary Bryan Elementary School, a temporary shelter that soon was flooded with donations of food and supplies. Gas and electricity to the neighborhood was shut off and it's not clear when residents will be able to return.
The blast was so immense, the debris so widespread and the flames so bright that some initially thought it was the result of a plane crash, a notion that authorities quickly dismissed. While a gas explosion seemed most likely, Indianapolis Fire Department spokeswoman Bonnie Hensley said she's never seen a gas explosion that powerful.
"A lot of it looks like a tornado," Hensley said. "The extent of the damage is large and it goes out a pretty good ways."
So devastating was the scene that rescue workers were going door to door looking for victims and marking the houses that had been searched in much the same way tornado-stricken areas are notated.
"Every investigator in town is sorting through the rubble tonight," Hensley said at about 3 a.m. "We don't know if there are any more victims."
Indianapolis Fire Dept.
The Journal and Courier has more detailed reports of collateral damages to other homes plus an 18-image photo gallery HERE.
WRTV has more descriptions of the blast shock wave and anecdotes HERE.
Update, 3 pm Eastern:
The gas company has checked all of the mains in the area and no leaks were detected. Additionally, there have been no reports of gas smells in the area leading up to the time of the blast.
At a press conference this morning, Fire Chief Kenny Bacon made the following statements (via WTHR-TV):
Chief Bacon said the call initially came in as a residence fire with entrapment. "Our folks are right around the corner. The first commander on the scene hit a second alarm," the chief explained.
Seven people were transported to local hospitals, several from the scene and some who made it to Mary Bryan Elementary School and then were transported.
Bacon told reporters he initially estimated about 25 homes were affected when he got to the explosion scene last night, but he said he realized he had "underestimated by quite a bit once I saw it in daylight."
The chief also said there were "quite a few homes" that were some distance away from the point of the blast that sustained damage. All of those homes will be surveyed. The structural engineers' survey is expected to be complete by Sunday afternoon. Until it was finished, Chief Bacon urged patience.
Homes will be categorized as inhabitable, homes with enough damage that they're too dangerous to enter and homes that can be entered to retrieve belongings. "There are homes that will have to be torn down. There are homes that will be inhabitable within a day," said the chief.
Some of the videos that have been posted:
The early radio traffic has been posted via YouTube. First-arriving unit reports a structural collapse and "a lot of fires."
AN INDIANAPOLIS EMS UNIT was involved in a heavy crash Monday evening despite the driver's attempt to avoid the collision. The ambulance was on a non-emergency transport with a patient at 6 pm when a car that witnesses say was driving erratically down the road crashed head-on with the ambulance. The force of the crash knocked the car onto its roof. WTHR-TV tells us:
Police say the preliminary investigation shows the ambulance was traveling west on 21st Street, while the other vehicle, a full-size passenger car, was driving erratically in the eastbound lanes. The ambulance driver attempted to avoid the oncoming vehicle, but the car drove into the ambulance's path and struck it head-on, causing the car to flip over.
The driver of the car was taken to Wishard Hospital in serious condition. One of the workers in the ambulance was reportedly slightly injured.
The Indianapolis Star has the story and additional photos HERE.
The AFP has a heart-gripping story about a brave Japanese firefighter who made no hesitation to sacrifice his life in order to save hundreds of his villagers.
Koshita, 57, one of 28 members of the Second Otsuchi Fire Unit, rushed to his seaside station in the afternoon of March 11 after he felt the first massive jolt of the earthquake. There, he found an electrical blackout had put the station's siren system out of action.
Koshita grabbed an old-fashioned bell, only kept in storage as a back-up for the siren, held it tight and climbed to the roof, where he started ringing it vigorously.
The sound echoed for several minutes across the village until the giant waves came crashing over the horizon, sweeping away the station, its watch tower, and Koshita himself.
Our friend Mark Donovan sent us this well-written article from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette that gives a good description of the service provided by the Providence Fire Canteen Unit.
T & G photo
If your department has a canteen, this is a good example of positive PR that you can use for some tips. A great way to explain your duty and perhaps generate some donations. CLICK HERE.
In a turnabout from that tragic fiasco in Houston last month, the staff at a daycare center in Indianapolis was a) there, and b) knew just what to do when fire broke out with 24 toddlers under their care. Firefighter Nation has the story, video and links. CLICK HERE.
A lightning strike caused a 2-alarm fire in a Nashville, Tennessee, apartment building Monday afternoon. The fire started in the attic area and the firefighters were hindered because there are two roofs over the building.
Two firefighters were injured and taken to the hospital but are expected to be released by tomorrow. WSMV-TV has the story, photo gallery, and a video report. CLICK HERE.
A 2-STORY BUILDING IN A BOY SCOUT CAMP near Indianapolis, Indiana, burned down Wednesday morning. Camp Belzer is one of several Boy Scout camps in central Indiana, but is used year-around for leadership training and other various activities. The 15,00o sq. ft. building contained a cafeteria and various class and activity rooms.
A passerby noticed flames and knocked on the door of the on-campus ranger, who lives in a house on the grounds, to alert him. The blaze was reported about 6 a.m. and brought under control about 7:30 a.m.
There are(no) hydrants in the area and water tankers were summoned from several area fire departments. Up to 60 firefighters responded, some spraying water on trees to keep the flames from spreading.
The 7-yr.-old building was completely gutted. Units are still on the scene and it is too early for investigators to begin seeking the cause of the $1.7 millon blaze.
WTHR-TV Ch. 13 has this video report from the scene with some good helicopter views:
AN PAIR OF INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA, FIRETRUCKS COLLIDED Saturday night while responding to the same call.
A pumper and a ladder truck came together at an intersection from different directions while responding to a fire alarm at a high-rise apartment. The caller reported seeing fire from another building and people evacuating the building. It turned out to be a false call.
The collision knocked the truck into an oncoming lane where it struck a parked vehicle. While the damage to the firetrucks’ bodyworks appeared to be extensive, there were no personal injuries in the collision.
THE INDIANAPOLIS SUBURB OF BEECH GROVE, Indiana, had a double-header early Sunday morning that brought several companies from the IFD in to help out. The first fire was a house fire of the routine variety and they were in the mop-up stage when an alarm came in for the Payless Liquors storage warehouse.
The first units were met with a large fire in progress and the need for additional help. WISH-TV Ch. 8 had video crews on the scenes of both fires and filed this report:
The warehouse fire was notable for the high, blue flames generated as the alcohol burned off. That fire was brought under control in just over an hour and the loss is estimated at $1.5 million.
A TRACTOR-TRAILER HAULING 1,800 CASES OF BEER wrecked and burned Thursday morning on I-70 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The truck was traveling westbound around 2 am and entering a construction zone that has temporary lane shifts erected. The driver admitted that he mis-judged the lane changes and he struck one of the jersey walls, ripping open a full saddle tank of fuel and starting a fire. The truck began burning immediately while he was still moving and he had to bring it to a stop and bail out, jumping through the flames into the center lane that was fortunately vacant as auto traffic backed off from the blazing truck.
Wayne Township firefighters responded along with a haz-mat team and extinguished the fire, but the entire rig was ablaze when they arrived and all was lost. The westbound lanes of the freeway remained closed this morning while the beer was transferred to another truck and the burned out hulk was righted and towed away.
WTHR-TV Ch. 13 has this video report from the scene:
THE MARION COUNTY, INDIANA, PROSECUTOR FILED 6 felony charges against a now-former Indianapolis police officer suspected of being involved in more than a dozen, perhaps as many as twenty arsons.
Jesse Russell, 31, first became a suspect in several fires after it was noticed that he was the first person to discover several fires in and near his patrol area. Investigators then attached a hidden GPS transmitter to his patrol car and were able to physically place him at the scene of more fires. At least three of the charges are for apartment fires that carry penalties of up to 20 yrs. in prison on each charge.
This video report from WISH-TV presents more details:
The three-year officer resigned from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department after his arrest last week. Russell will appear in Superior Court today for an initial hearing.
A 76-YR.-OLD MAN DRIVING ON I-465 in Indianapolis, Indiana, started to exit the freeway Tuesday afternoon, then changed his mind and attempted to pull back into the traffic lane. He then struck an SUV causing it to spin around and collide with a tractor-trailer carrying a large water tank containing salt-water fish.
The truck crashed into the jersey barrier splitting open the fuel tank and starting a diesel fire before the vehicles even came to a stop.
The fire was so destructive to the asphalt pavement that the highway had to be shut down for several hours while an emergency re-paving job was done to the lanes. Police believe that alcohol was a factor in the cause of the wreck.
WISH-TV Ch. 8 has this video report including an interview with the obviously disgusted truck driver: