Fishers fire response questioned


Investigators say a fire that destroyed three Fishers homes Tuesday and damaged another home likely started in the attic of one of the homes.

According to fire investigators, the fire had been smoldering for several hours. The homeowner told investigators that he had had an electrician in earlier in the week. That may have been a contributing factor.

The burned homes are still an investigation scene. The only people allowed past the police tape are family, investigators and insurance agents.

"When you're watching someone's house burn, it seems like forever," said Lisa Bell, victim's daughter-in-law. "She's fine. The dogs fine. It's just really stressful for her."

The fire began at a home on Adirondack Court and quickly spread to three other homes. A second alarm was called and over 60 firefighters from five local fire departments responded, including Fishers, Indianapolis, McCordsville, Buck Creek and Anderson Fire Departments. Fire crews rescued two dogs from one of the homes.

The goal is to arrive within nine and half minutes of that first 911 call, and the Fishers Fire Department says they met that goal. However, a medic unit, not a fire engine, was the first to arrive at the scene.

That's because Fishers Fire Station 92, which the closest station to the fire near 116th and Brooks School Road, does not have a fire engine. The fire chief moved the engine a month ago because of a construction project.

It took the medic unit about three minutes to get to the fire scene. Two people trained as both paramedics and firefighters used fire equipment and a water can stowed in the ambulance before a fire engine arrived five minutes later. The closest engine Tuesday was an engine from Station 96, more than four miles away.

The overall response time at 8.5 minutes beat department standards.

Fishers Fire Chief Steve Orusa says the arrival time of the engine did not affect the size of the fire.

"The medic unit got on scene, did exactly what they were designed to do. They went to the exposures; they did search and rescue; they took control of the scene and shortly afterwards, the ladder and engine company showed up. It's all about risk management. I wish I had fire engines on every block and fire stations but unfortunately, financially that's not feasible," said Orusa.

Still, Bell was concerned.

"I'm not happy there wasn't an engine," she said.

Construction hasn't started at Station 92 yet. The chief says the renovation plans have been delayed by the county. Once the project is finished, a fire engine will be brought back to the location, but it's likely a fire engine won't return here until next spring.

Chief Orusa says this was the first time the new strategic plan was tested since moving that fire engine from the station closet to this neighborhood.