Arsonist set fire to apartment home with 10 people inside, investigators say

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Fire trucks surround a west side apartment building, and a ladder stretches from one side of the street to the other as firefighters rescue a woman.

EMS crews rushed the woman to the hospital for smoke inhalation. Investigators believe an arsonist is behind it all. But they aren’t sure who — or what their motive was.

The fire broke out around 10 p.m. Thursday near the intersection of Michigan Street and Tibbs Avenue. Ten people were forced to evacuate; four were injured, including two firefighters and one woman who was trapped on the second floor. The blaze didn’t just impact those living in the apartment, but those on the block also.

Andrew Ritchie was just taking out his trash when he saw his neighbor being carried away on a stretcher.

“I guess it was the woman who had smoke inhalation or something because they had oxygen on her,” he said.

Angela Iraheta stepped outside after seeing the blinding lights of several emergency vehicles.

“The smoke was from here to about back here. Then, right here, it was kind of foggy. You could see everything, but you could smell the fire was coming,” she described.

Michigan Street was in a state of disorder. A woman on the second floor couldn’t get out. Her door was too hot.

“She couldn’t get down from the second floor to the first floor because the smoke was so thick and so heavy. It was even hard for firefighters to make it up there,” said Indianapolis Fire Department’s Chief of Fire Investigations, Tony Head.

“I saw the ladder. When they say they rescued her from the ladder, it was at an angle from the fire truck on the other side of the street,”¬†Ritchie added.

Firefighters were able to rescue the woman. She was rushed to the hospital in serious condition. Not long after, crews put out the blaze. The investigation began afterwards, and officials were able to pinpoint where the fire started.

“It was kind of close to one of those areas, about the stairs. That kind of gave the indication that it was possibly a fire that was set,” said Chief Head.

Investigators have ruled it an arson.

“I don’t know what would motivate this, or if it was just a random act,” said Ritchie.

Iraheta added, “It’s kind of scary. I hope he gets caught.”

The arsonist is still at large. Officials are asking you to call Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS with any information that could help in the investigation.

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