By Rita Reith
Amid the rockets’ red glare of a busy Fourth of July in Indianapolis, Indy firefighters responded to multiple calls, including one that displaced two families and several others that caused serious injuries.
On Saturday, crews were dispatched around 10:22 p.m. for a working double residence fire on Knue Road and arrived to find heavy fire showing. The fire was controlled in less than a half hour with no injuries.
A family of three that had rented for 2 1/2 years were displaced from the fire side of the building, while a family of five was displaced from the non-affected side. Two cats were still unaccounted for.
A male occupant of the fire side, age 46, told firefighters that he was lighting fireworks in his driveway. All was reportedly fine until one of the fireworks shot straight into his garage instead of going up toward the sky as anticipated. The firework lodged in a corner of the garage that housed a lawn mower and several gas cans along with multiple available combustibles. The fire took off and tore through the home, causing significant damage.
On Independence Day, Indianapolis Fire Department (IFD) firefighters responded on approximately 20 trash fires, five vehicle fires, two tree fires, and dozens of calls for investigations, all believed to be fireworks related.
At 9:17 p.m., IFD firefighters were getting fuel for the Engine when they heard a “mortar shell” type of firework detonate nearby, and commented that it was extremely loud and awfully close. Minutes later they were flagged down and informed of a severe injury in the 5800 Block of Southeastern Ave. The crew responded and found a 34-year-old male with a missing right hand from the mortar shell he’d been holding just minutes before.
At 10:12 p.m., IFD firefighters responded to the 3100 Block of Brandenburg Drive after a 20-year-old female lost several fingers after holding and lighting what she thought was a “smoke bomb” but turned out to be a firework. She was transported to Eskenazi in serious but stable condition. On arrival, firefighters were met by a large group of teens on the street (they estimated 100) that were engaged in overzealous and unsupervised firework activity. Firefighters were told that the teens were throwing bottle rockets directly at homes in the area, and police were called in.
RITA L. REITH is a battalion chief with the Indianapolis Fire Department (IFD) and serves as the agency’s public information officer.