Fire breaks out after woman threatens arson at own home

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An Indianapolis man called 911 Saturday night after a bizarre encounter with a woman he says tried to break into his house.

The man and his family live on North Jefferson Street in Indianapolis near East New York Street. He told Eyewitness News he confronted a would-be burglar who took off on foot.

He found her on the side of his house just before 8 p.m., trying to get into a locked window. During the confrontation, she reportedly threatened him with fire.

"She started telling me that she was going to torch my house once I told her to get off my property and that I have called the police," the victim said.

The man followed the woman through the neighborhood, where he says she tried to get into several other homes. He says the woman wore a jacket and pajama pants and told police she smelled of alcohol and drugs.

He eventually lost track of the woman, saying, "I walked back down to see if I could see the lady at this point and there was no sign of her, so I just went home for the evening."

During his call to 911, the man followed the woman, hoping to connect police officers with her to investigate. Although the Marion County 911 Dispatch Center found no record of it, the caller says he got a "hold" message when he telephoned 911 from his cell phone.

Eyewitness News learned from the Marion County 911 Dispatch Center that officers made contact with the woman, who told them she was locked out of her home on North Beville Avenue. But in the next 24 hours, firefighters responded to the same address in the 400 block of North Beville Avenue to flames at a duplex.

Police records show officers found the same woman disoriented at the fire scene. It turns out it's her own home and firefighters suspect arson. Damages to the structure are estimated at about $20,000. Eventually, paramedics took the woman to the hospital for evaluation.

Calling 911

The first line of defense for citizens in trouble in Indianapolis is the Marion County Sheriff's Department's 911 Center.

In an emergency, every second counts. 911 has been designated as the national emergency number. Unfortunately, delays in answering true emergency calls are often caused by people calling for less than compelling reasons.

If you have any doubt as to whether someone's life or property is in peril, it is recommended that you call 911.

But when calling 911, do not hang up and call back. Calls are answered in the order they are received and if you call back, you will go to the end of the incoming calls, delaying getting you the help you need.

Callers to 911 should be prepared to answer the following questions, known as "The Six W's":

  • WHERE is the emergency?
  • WHAT is the emergency?
  • WHO is involved?
  • WHEN did it happen?
  • What is the WELFARE of the person(s)?
  • Are WEAPONS involved?

The 911 dispatch center urges that you answer all questions to the best of your ability and stay on the line with the dispatcher until they have all the information.@The purpose of their questions is to protect everyone involved and provide you with the best service possible.

Callers are discouraged from following or chasing suspects and it is imperative that your exact location is known, so that the appropriate assistance can be provided.