Victim of deadly house fire on North Kitley Avenue identified

(WTHR photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - The victim who was killed in a house fire on the city's northeast side Tuesday has been identified as 63-year-old Douglas E. Martin.

Firefighters were called to the 4000 block of North Kitley Avenue, just southwest of 42nd & Arlington, at around 8:30 p.m.

It could take several days before they know exactly what happened, but fire investigators are ruling it accidental.

Black smoke was filling the air everywhere. Firefighters immediately searched for Martin who was trapped inside, but they couldn’t find him in the house.

“It was about 10 minutes into the fire, they were told the person may be in the garage. They did a primary search of the garage and immediately found the person in the garage,” said Rita Reith, an IFD public information officer.

Witnesses told investigators that Martin was trying to put the fire out. According to IFD, he was a visitor to the home.

Duane Childs, the owner of the home, told firefighters that Martin was hanging out in the garage when he began to smell smoke. When Childs found the fire in the garage, Martin tried to put it out with buckets of water.

That's when Childs went outside, called 911 and encouraged Martin to leave. However, he insisted on continuing his efforts to try and put the fire out. As Martin continued to make multiple trips from the garage to the kitchen for water, the fire began to grow and the toxic smoke turned black.

Within a minute, Childs said that's when he realized Martin was not coming out so he ran to his truck and drove it into the overhead door of the garage, thinking that he would make way for Martin to get out – to no avail.

“Whatever was on fire inside the garage, the person who passed was trying to put it out with buckets of water,” said Reith.

Even though the home was equipped with working smoke alarms, none of them activated.

Reith said it was the third fire death in Indianapolis this week. On Saturday, a married couple died after they were overcome by smoke when food on the stove caught on fire at their Adams Street home.

“If your house is on fire, if something is on fire, just evacuate," said Reith. "Let the firefighters come in and take care of it. A house is replaceable. A life is not.”

At least one person lived at the home and was displaced by the damage estimated at $50,000.