Fire engulfs north side apartment construction site


A large fire engulfed an apartment building under construction on the near north side Friday night.

The fire broke out around 9 p.m. on the northeast corner of East 16th Street and Broadway. Large flames could be seen from a camera atop the television tower in front of the WTHR studios. Smoke from the fire could be seen from several counties around Indianapolis, viewers reported.

The fire destroyed two apartment buildings under construction.

"We have a four-story wood frame structure, actually two of them, in that location," said Joe Langybartels, a manager on the construction project who was at the scene.

Langybartels told Eyewitness News he didn't believe there was anything on the construction site that could have caused the fire.

"Not right off hand, no, 'cause everything...all the sprinkler system's poly, the drain lines are poly, the wires were being pulled, there's no power," he said.

Neighbors say the fire started small, then suddenly took off.

"I dialed 911, I said, 'It's a fire!'," said Regina Morris. "Next thing you know, all of them just went to blaze. I'm on the phone with 911, I'm telling them, 'They need to get here! Y'all need to get here!' They said, 'Where you at ma'am?' I said, 'I'm at 16th and Park.' I said 'It's a small fire.' Next thing you know, everything is popping and it went to blaze."

Construction materials across the street also ignited and a nearby church reportedly caught fire as well. Propane tanks at the scene also were seen exploding.

"I was in my house, me and my two-year old. We was in the house and we hear a boom twice and I thought maybe it was just somebody at the trash dumpster and it got loud and then I hear a whole bunch of yelling, a whole bunch of people screaming," said witness Sarah France. "I go out on my back patio and everything is in flames...the side of the street, the light post is in flames, the big building is in flames. It caught onto the brick building next door and into the church."

"16th Street, I'm going, reading my lottery, looking up and looking down, I had crossed the light. Then, my son was, like, 'Mommy!' I'm looking down, still looking at my numbers driving, and he said, 'Mommy, there's flying fire,' and I was like, 'Let the windows up!'," said Ashaki Paschall. "I hit the gas real fast, but I ran over a board that had come off of something. It came from somewhere, I don't know, but it was real hot."

Firefighters were still putting out hot spots at 11 p.m. Arson investigators were on the scene, waiting for the fire to be completely extinguished to begin their investigation into the cause of the fire.

Around 90 people from an apartment building nearby were evacuated. The Red Cross is at the scene, taking care of the needs of those residents and anyone who needs assistance from around the fire.

There have been no injuries confirmed from the fire at this time.