Woman dies in triple house fire in Indianapolis

(WTHR/Joe Fenton)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — An early morning fire killed an east side Indianapolis woman on Tuesday.

Two homes were destroyed and a third significantly damaged in the 2600 block of Rothe Lane, near East 30th Street and North Cumberland Road.

Firefighters were on the defensive from the moment they arrived around 4 a.m. Whipping winds were pushing the flames into nearby homes.

William Johnson lives across the street and awoke to the commotion.

“That’s what got us out of bed. The dog barking,” Johnson said. “We heard a couple of explosions. We went out there. It was like terrible.”

As Johnson took pictures he began to worry the fire would spread to his home. He made sure his wife, kids and grandkids were up and ready.

“Yeah ready to run and get out there,” Johnson said.

It was half an hour before the fires were under control and firefighters could search the homes. Inside one of them they found the body of 59-year-old Marsha Dean Karnafel.

She had called her husband at work about an hour before the fire started.

“She asked him to bring her some hot tea...which he frequently did after his shift,” Reith said.

Officials say her husband, a nurse at Community Hospitals, was scheduled to end his shift at 6 a.m. but was notified by neighbors that his house was on fire.

Her husband told investigators she had health problems that limited her mobility.

People living in the nearby homes were able to escape.

Curtis Wingo and his wife live next door. Their home is seriously damaged but repairable. Considering all that happened just a few feet away Curtis said he feels blessed.

The fire was so intense and destructive, Reith explained investigators may have a difficult time identifying how it started.

This is the 12th house fire fatality of the year in the Indianapolis Fire Department district.

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