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Two dead in Indianapolis explosion. 18 homes leveled or damaged.

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A roaring explosion that leveled two homes and set two others ablaze in a huge fire forced about 200 people from a devastated Indianapolis neighborhood where at least two people werr killed, authorities said Sunday. The powerful nighttime blast shattered windows, crumpled walls and inflicted other damage on at least 14 other homes. 

Two people were taken to a hospital with minor injuries after the explosion and fire, said Lieut. Bonnie Hensley, with the Indianapolis Fire Department. She said firefighters later put out the flames and searchers then went through the rubble and damaged homes one at a time in case others were left behind. At least one body has been recovered.

Some witnesses said in televised reports that they heard people screaming “help me! help me!” after the explosion and fire and that two parents and two children were safely pulled from one house that caught fire.

“This looks like a war zone; it really does,” Hensley told The Associated Press. “Police officers and fire department officials remain at the scene searching for other possible victims.” She said they used search lights until dawn as they peered into the damaged and ruined homes.

She declined to identify the only confirmed fatality, saying only that the body was found in one of the leveled homes after the fire was put out. Fire officials told AP after daybreak that they were not immediately releasing any further information until later Sunday morning. 

The explosion at 11 p.m. Saturday destroyed two houses that were side by side and spread fire to two other nearby homes in the neighborhood on the south side of Indianapolis, she said, adding at least 14 other homes were damaged in the area by the blast’s shock wave or flying debris it kicked up.

The blast was heard for miles all around, and authorities said they had no immediate information on the cause. An investigation by fire and other agencies was under way. Reports said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also was involved. 

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Retro22Forward

    Staffing should have been 20 people per unit. Except no one can afford that. Should have been public safety officers. Except that they dont like to fight fires. All the off duty guys should have responded. Except there is no system in place for that. Tsk tsk tsk.

  • Tree

    You can’t plan/staff for everything. There were probably a dozen houses that would have warranted a first alarm by them selves under normal circumstances. Given the chaos, it sounds like they got things under control fairly quickly.

  • commenter

    You can’t plan for everything, but you can plan for only having 4-12 firefighters for a house fire. More than that should be RIG or exposures. Your SOGs should anticipate a company arriving and acting alone for some time — even in urban areas. Never know when you’re the only one nearby, when everyone else is working at another alarm. When this happens, 1 engine per house, maybe 1/2 a truck to support each, everyone else is RIG or water supply.

    Train your company officers to do a real size up and make a real decision on what to do, rather than default to the agressive interior attack with a modest handline. Train them so that they don’t vapor lock often, but if they do, the default is large bore lines from a safe position.

  • Medichill

    Very nice job early on by the Safety Officer to realize this could be an explosive device and to have FFs consider a secondary explosion from that or natural gas.

  • h deezy

    Being that it’s easier to consider the faults:
    Significant delay in obtaining additional resources – suppression units, specialty rescue / collapse / technical rescue units
    Poor control and unclear orders evident through radio traffic
    Poor utilization of NIMS – this incident could have had double the battalion chiefs and still needed more officers to run Operations, Logistics, Medical, Search, Suppression branches/groups/sectors.
    Dispatch…do they have CAD maps? An alarms-in-progress operator should have the option to immediately access a map relative to the incident address. Delaying alerting units in the interest of obtaining a cross street is shameful as that information can be obtained later, and a reasonable reflex time is a minute to two.

    I must commend the high priority placed on the attempts to rescue live victims and it sounded like the individual company officers were making valiant efforts of incident mitigation

    Stay safe, and we can learn from every call.

  • h deezy

    Who trained this PIO?