Fire evacuations lifted: Residents can return to their homes

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The Indianapolis Fire Department announce Sunday morning at about 6:45 a.m. that fire evacuations were lifted and residents who had been forced from their homes could finally return.

The EPA and Marion County Health Department had been using stationary air sampling equipment to monitor air quality - looking for possible hazardous or dangerous chemicals, particles or substances in the air.

One Marion County Health Department truck with that same equipment attached to the roof was driving through the neighborhood grabbing air samples Saturday evening.

Those residents, who lived in the evacuation zone, were told to leave on Saturday, by police who went knocking door to door.

One officer on his radio advised dispatch, "I have a gentleman in a wheelchair needs assistance."

Mandatory evacuations were put in place Saturday afternoon in the half-mile northeast of a large warehouse fire on Indianapolis' southwest side.

"Evacuating the neighborhood, you'll have to go back," an officer told some bicyclists off Washington Street, which was closed off for several blocks between Harding and Tibbs.

Houses south of Washington Street were cleared, and a park on the north side became an outdoor shelter for evacuees. By 11:00 pm, most residents were being allowed back inside their homes, with the exception of Belmont Ave.

We asked one woman if it was all a little scary.

"A little bit. We're worried about our homes, our pets," said dog owner Betty Brinson.

"What did you just hear there?" we asked one woman sitting on a park picnic bench. "Another explosion. It's been going on all day," she stated.

South of the plant, a firefighter directing traffic wore a large black cloth container on his leg. Asked what was in it, he said, "It's a respirator."

We asked if it was just in case that smoke got a little nasty. "They told us to keep it close by," he said.

And that's the concern - that harmful properties could be in the black smoke coming from the fire.

Two blocks from the plant a homeowner told us, "Yes, I am concerned. I have respiratory issues plus I have pets," said Kenneth Puckett. He continued, "the lady next door is in her eighties and she lives alone."

We asked him if he thought he should just leave the house, take a ride and get out of the area.

"I have the dogs. I just couldn't leave them," he said.

The EPA and Marion County Health Department will continue to monitor air quality at the scene.