Large fire damages same south side warehouse for second time

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Indianapolis fire crews battled a large warehouse fire Friday evening that broke out around 7:45 near I-65 and Raymond.

Smoke could be seen for miles.

The massive fire was at a vacant warehouse,  the same warehouse that caught fire in another part of the building last September.

Neighbors first noticed the danger and called 911.

Flames had engulfed the warehouse, sending thick black smoke rolling into the sky.

"It was big. It was very big," said one neighbor. "It was maybe 5, 6 school buses high."

"You could see it up over the houses, the actual fire," another neighbor described. "We came over here and it kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger."

The massive two-alarm fire nearly went to three alarms and took 80 Indianapolis firefighters to tackle it.

"We have three aerial ladders deployed. We've got several monitor nozzles. We've got several hand lines deployed," said Indianapolis Fire Department Captain Rita Reith.

The source of the battle for IFD: A 30,000 square foot vacant warehouse.

Captain Reith says this fire was on the backside of the same warehouse that caught fire and burned badly last September on Van Buren.

At first, the challenge was getting water in to fight it.

Because of the warehouse's location, access was tough.

But fire wasn't the only danger.

The air itself, churning with black smoke and asbestos choked out the sunlight to an entire neighborhood and posed a threat to firefighters' safety.

"We've got asbestos shingles which is producing the heavy smoke and the smell," Reith said. "That's why we had to move everyone back and everybody up there has been ordered to be on air."

No one was hurt in the fire and homes nearby did not have to be evacuated.

But the massive fire did bring out something else - firefighters from across the country, in town for their annual convention, came to watch their comrades in action.

"Yeah, it's your life. It's your blood. Don't get enough of this stuff. This is the smell of success. This is our cologne," said Hyde Park, New York firefighter John Beyer.

In fact, Beyer and several other firefighters left the baseball game at Victory Field, after seeing a column of smoke from their seats.

Like our own fire crews, they say battling danger is just what they do.

"This is what we live for," Beyer said. "This is why we do the job."

The fire was marked under control around 9:45, two hours after it started.

Fire crews are still investigating the cause.