Pictures show extent of damage from Indianapolis warehouse fire

Crews begin investigation of fire's cause

INDIANAPOLIS - Pictures released Sunday showed the extent of the damage resulting from a large fire that raged for eight hours Saturday at a 440,000-square-foot warehouse on Indianapolis' southwest side.

Indianapolis Fire Department crews were still at the scene of the fire at 220 Belmont Ave. on Sunday to douse hotspots.

See pics from inside warehouse fire: http://bit.ly/124AuXB

Fire investigators hope to be able to get into the charred rubble beginning Monday to determine what sparked the blaze, which began just before 1 p.m. Saturday.

"They're looking at possibly Monday before they can get a handle on the smoldering, simply because of the materials in there," said Indianapolis fire Capt. Rita Burris.

The building once housed a Link Belt facility. It was being leased by Shelter Distribution, Mercury Trucking, Zen Trucking, Nationwide OTR and two general contractors, fire investigators said.

"A lot of people that I know lived here. My dad grew up here. A lot of people in the old neighborhood worked here, and there's going to be a lot of memories gone with this one," said Joe Carnagua, a former Link Belt employee.

Investigators said late Saturday that about 60 percent of the building had collapsed. The fire also burned the Belmont Warehousing building across the street.

Evacuations of a five-block area around the fire were lifted early Sunday morning. Officials had been concerned about toxins from the acrid smoke that wafted through the air for several hours.

Though the significant air quality concern had subsided, officials still warned that people who are sensitive to poor air quality should stay away from the area.

More than 100 homes were evacuated during the fire, bounded by Harding Street and Belmont Avenue from east to west and from Oliver Avenue to Washington Street south to north.

Washington Street was closed to traffic for much of Saturday afternoon. Officials are working to reopen Belmont Avenue.

The warehouse contained 65,000 square feet of wooden pallets, siding and heavy equipment, along with 85,000 square feet of tires, officials said.

Explosions rocked the building several times as the fire raged as about 30 propane tanks exploding.

No one was inside the buildings that burned, but four firefighters suffered minor injured while battling the fire, Burris said. About 200 emergency personnel, including firefighters from seven departments, were involved in the fight.

Fire officials thanked those who helped firefighters and other first responders during the fight, including the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church of Indianapolis, who supplied hundreds of sandwiches.

Marsh and Kroger stories supplied water and Gatorade to crews. People who want to donate supplies to firefighters can do so at Station No. 5, at 450 W. 21st St.

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