The smoldering remains of a four-alarm fire that burned Sunday night on the Near Eastside are expected to keep investigators at the scene at least until this morning. Officials have yet to determine what caused the fire, which engulfed two abandoned buildings in the 1500 block of East Van Buren Street near South State Avenue and caused fire officials to keep a wary eye on homes about a block away.
Indianapolis Fire Department officials said the investigation will help determine whether the main building that caught fire will need to be demolished or shored up for stability, as well as the origin and cause of the fire.
One firefighter was taken to a hospital Sunday night because of possible heat exhaustion. Monday afternoon, officials said the firefighter had been released. No other injuries were reported.
Crews responded at 9:07 p.m. after receiving a 911 call. Flames were already through the roof of the 160,000-square-foot, two-story brick building and quickly spread to a second structure.
As of Monday afternoon, fire crews were still at the scene extinguishing the fire, although there were far fewer than the 13 fire engines and 10 ladder trucks that responded to the scene Sunday night.
The buildings, once part of Holcomb & Hoke Co., were boarded up when firefighters arrived and were thought to be vacant.
Firefighters closely watched homes along East LeGrande Avenue on Sunday night in case evacuations were necessary, said IFD spokesman Lt. Larry Tracy. The area within an eight-block radius was closed to traffic during the fire but has since been reopened.
Because the buildings were empty and in danger of collapsing, firefighters took a defensive posture and sprayed water from the outside.
“They’re pumping 1,000 gallons of water a minute into the buildings,” Tracy said Sunday night.
The fire was upgraded to a four-alarm fire shortly before 11 p.m. Sunday. The blaze was under control about 1:30 a.m. Monday, about 4½ hours after firefighters responded, according to the fire department.
A damage estimate was not available.
Written by Kristine Guerra