Olney St. fire raises fire safety, other questions - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Olney St. fire raises fire safety, other questions

Updated:
Father Chris Wadelton Father Chris Wadelton
The Guerra family The Guerra family
INDIANAPOLIS -

The near east side fire that killed an entire family over the weekend is still under investigation. Eyewitness News looked into the circumstances surrounding the fire to determine if anyone is working on preventing a similar tragedy.

Six lives were lost in the city's deadliest fire in recent memory. The tragedy brought an outpouring of grief and compassion, tears and teddy bears to the scene on Olney St. However, there's been no public anger or outrage, no one demanding to know what can be done to prevent a similar tragedy.

"I think people need to be more upset and asking why and how can this happen in our community?" said Father Chris Wadelton. The east side St. Phillip Neri parish ministers to about 600 Hispanic families. Fr. Wadelton worries there will someday be a similar tragedy.

"I know there are families living in similar living conditions," he added.

Leo and Brandy Mae Guerra and their four children appear to victims of poverty, poor health and other unfortunate circumstances. Fire investigators didn't find a required smoke detector. It's questionable whether or not the home met minimum health and safety codes because of its small size and lack of a second door.

Roberto Marquez, an associate pastor for the church, said he "absolutely" knows of other families living in similar conditions.

"Are these people afraid to ask for help?" Eyewitness News asked.

"Yes, absolutely," he said without hesitation. "They don't speak English. They are probably thinking no one will hear their petitions."

These families also might be fearful about their immigration status being questioned.

"I think the Hispanic community lives largely in the shadows," said Fr. Wadelton - until an unimaginable and painful tragedy has some asking what good, if any, can come from it.

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