Belmont Ave. fire sparks concerns over air quality

Neighbors say soot from the fire fell onto their homes nearby.
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As investigators begin to probe this weekend's fire at a west Indianapolis warehouse, neighbors are still concerned about their safety.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms' elite National Response Team, which investigated the Oklahoma City bombing, the 9/11 attacks and other high profile events, will join the investigation in Indianapolis Tuesday.

Police have been going door to door in the neighborhoods around the plant Monday. One man told Eyewitness News they asked specifically anyone knew anything about a teen boy.

"If they've got those cameras working, then they've got a picture of him. They can nail him," said the man, who did not want to appear on camera.

But he said a teenager told him about a game that went wrong Saturday.

"Truth or dare game," the man said. "Those kids were playing 'truth or dare' - to set fire to the factory."

It's too early to tell if there is anything to that. Police haven't even gotten into much of what's left of the plant and are checking out all tips.

"They have not been able to get into the building at this point, so it's too early to tell the cause, origin or location of the blaze," said the ATF's David Coulson.

Neighbors showed Eyewitness News some of the burned material they've discovered in their yards since Saturday. They learned Monday it will be another two days or so before they find out what EPA and Marion County Health Department monitors have picked up in their air.

They are looking for traces of asbestos, metals and more. Asbestos is linked to lung problems.

"This was in the windowsill of my house," said Linda Batchelor, pointing to a scorched sheet of heavy paper with small perforations. "Near my bedroom upstairs. It was straight up there."

All of those residents were evacuated from the fire zone by police Saturday. Officers went door to door - their gas masks at the ready, strapped to their legs - making sure residents got out.

"They've got asthma and everything and that worries me," said Brandi Medley, pointing to children. "Everyday, you still smell the stuff."

The investigators will look at all the events and figure out how procedures they need to work on. They know of one already - the train.

A freight train severed a critical hose line early in the fire fight Saturday. It could not be stopped in time.

"What we're going to do is set up a more direct conversation between our dispatchers and the trains' dispatchers. They did as best they could," said IFD Deputy Chief Kenneth Bacon.