Intense Indianapolis house fire kills 77-year-old man late Tuesday night

INDIANAPOLIS - Investigators said smoking in bed may have led to the fire that killed a 77-year-old man in Indianapolis late Tuesday night.

Indianapolis Fire Department Capt. Rita Reith said the fire was reported just after 10:45 p.m. in the 1500 block of Roache Street on the city's west side.

Firefighters reportedly pulled the man from the second floor of the house and into the front yard, where rescue crews worked to save his life. His pulse returned and he was rushed to Eskenazi Health in critical condition, but he later died.

IFD said two women who live in the home said they were close family friends with the man, who had lived with them for 20 years.

The women told investigators they had been downstairs when the smoke detectors went off, and they heard the man shouting that they should get out of the house because something was on fire.

One of the women said she ran upstairs to find the man's bedroom aflame, and ran back downstairs and out of the house, as did the other woman. They said they thought the man was trying to put the fire out when he was overcome by the heavy smoke.

IFD arrived at the fire and Reith said Batallion Chief Rick Longerich initiated an intense search for the man when crews learned there was a person trapped inside the home. He reportedly went into the home without a fire hose and tried to get upstairs, but was pushed back by the sharp heat, the thick black smoke and nonexistent visibility. 

As crews made aggressive attacks with the hose line, search efforts were continued and crews found the man.

We will not identify the man until authorities have properly notified his loved ones.

Reith said this is the 15th fire-related deaths in 2014 for the IFD service district.

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