This article contains a series of breaking news updates about the industrial structure fire in northwest Richmond on Tuesday April 11. It is based on reporting from the scene by Mike Emery, research and reporting from Millicent Martin Emery and Chris Hardie, and contributed images and videos from community members. As with any rapidly unfolding emergency situation, some information that was believed to be correct at the time may turn out to be inaccurate or incomplete.
For Wednesday April 12 updates, read continuing coverage: Richmond fire response continues as officials blame ‘negligent’ property owner
9:00 PM: Mayor Snow says the evacuation order is expected to stay in place through tonight as the city waits for results from EPA & IDEM.
8:30 PM: Speaking to officials on the scene, WWN reporter Mike Emery has learned that the fire is officially contained, though it’s expected to burn for a couple of days. Officials said again that the fire started in a semi trailer behind a brick building and that firefighters had just one path of entry, creating difficulties accessing the fire. The heaviest area of flames was on the north side by the railroad tracks. The fire did not spread to the tracks or to residential areas, including North West Second Street.
Some smaller propane tanks did explode, but crews stopped the fire from causing a 500-gallon propane tank from exploding.
Officials also said that there was not enough water available to supply all of the hose lines needed, which ended up being a significant hindrance in fighting the fire. Indiana American Water company assisted by helping crews find the largest water mains available and then rerouted water to those.
Chief Tim Brown again called the situation “frustrating,” saying “we knew this was coming, and we just didn’t have enough water.” He referenced a previous Unsafe Building Commission citation issued for the property and said, “we knew it was a matter of when, not if.”
A minor injury was also reported. Firefighter Garrett Tudor fell in a ravine at the nearby trailer park that was used to access the fire, and was treated and released from Reid Health with an ankle strain.
8:12 PM: Matthew Cain, director of Wayne County Emergency Communications and Wayne County Emergency Management, told the WWN, “IDEM, State Fire Marshal’s Office, and EPA are all on scene and collaborating with our incident commanders. Evacuation orders are still in place for the 1/2 mile radius with shelter in place for those downwind for an abundance of caution. We will continue to monitor and provide support and resources for those on the scene. We also remain in close contact with Preble Co EMA to keep them apprised of our incident.”
Cain’s agency initially believes there will be no impact on or danger to the quality of Richmond’s drinking water supply, but could not offer any determination about the effects of the fire on surface water runoff or on air quality.
8:01 PM: Mayor Snow says that the donations of supplies received at Fire Station #1 are sufficient and are no longer needed at this time.
7:36 PM: Mayor Snow says environmental hazards are actively being assessed by teams on site.
7:13 PM: Video from WWN reporter Mike Emery shows that a significant amount of smoke continues to billow from the scene of the fire.
7:12 PM: G101.3 FM radio station reports that the Richmond Fire Department seeks donations of bottled water and Gatorade at Fire Station #1, 101 S. Fifth St., Richmond.
6:59 PM: These resources have been offered for those in the evacuation zone needing assistance:
- Bethesda Worship Center at 2200 Peacock Road in Richmond is serving as an evacuation site. For more information, call the church at (765) 939-2975.
- Oak Park Pentecostals, 1920 Chester Blvd., is open to families seeking shelter if they have been displaced as a result of the fire. For more information, call 765-962-3693.
- Transportation was dispatched for people needing assistance evacuating the area, they can meet the bus at the Welcome Inn Bar & Grill, 721 NW 5th St.
- Abington Pines dog boarding and grooming encourages those who need a place to bring their dog while evacuating to call the Centerville kennel at (765) 855-1000.
6:54 PM: We are awaiting further updates from officials at the scene of the fire. To reiterate what we know now and to summarize updates below, a fire broke out around 3 p.m. in a semi truck parked at the industrial site, which then spread to the six surrounding buildings. There have been no injuries reported. City leaders ordered the evacuation of anyone within a half mile of the fire, possibly out of concern for chemicals being released into the air. Numerous firefighting agencies are battling the flames, which are contained on three sides. The expectation is that fully extinguishing the fire will take a day or more.
6:41 PM: Adversity can bring a community together. Crestdale Elementary PTO just shared, “Even though our literacy night was cancelled we are happy to know the pizza did not go to waste, we donated pizzas to each firehouse to show our appreciation to the firefighters that have stepped in to help our city!”
6:39 PM: Richmond fire chief Tim Brown says the fire has been “contained on three sides.”
6:31 PM: Abington Pines dog boarding and grooming encourages those who need a place to bring their dog while evacuating to call the Centerville kennel at (765) 855-1000. “Please don’t leave them outside,” a post on Abington Pines’ Facebook page noted.
6:28 PM: Mayor Dave Snow has dispatched transportation for people needing assistance evacuating the area, they can meet the bus at the Welcome Inn Bar & Grill, 721 NW 5th St.
6:17 PM: During major fire events like this, fire departments coordinate to make sure other areas still have coverage. Right now, Dublin Volunteer Fire Department is covering the Cambridge City area, Webster Fire Department is assisting with other Richmond coverage, and Lynn Fire Department is covering Fountain City fire department’s service area.
6:06 PM: Bethesda Worship Center at 2200 Peacock Road in Richmond is serving as an evacuation site, first responders said. For more information, call the church at (765) 939-2975. “We have several folks coming in,” a church official said.
Richmond Civic Theatre has canceled Tuesday night rehearsals for “Hello, Dolly!” and Stage One Youth Theatre’s “Winnie the Pooh” at its downtown theater.
6:03 PM: Richmond Police Department chief Mike Britt told the WWN that residents should not wait to be contacted by law enforcement about evacuating.
We appreciate people cooperating with the evacuation. It should be a solid half mile. If you have not been contacted, please leave on your own. Our officers have gone door to door for several blocks on all sides.Chief Mike Britt
5:51 PM: Crews continue fighting the fire:
5:36 PM: Drone video shows the fire scene from overhead in this video shared by Corey McConnell, used with permission:
5:32 PM: Brown said crews are using construction equipment to try to clear out some of the rubble on the west side to create fire breaks so the fire won’t jump further.
5:29 PM: Brown said firefighters are trying to stop the blaze from spreading to the former Oberle & Associates Inc. building at 700 N. W. Second St.
Crews are receiving assistance from an aerial truck dispatched from Cambridge City. This photo from the scene by Jim Tanner shows one of the trucks in use:
5:23 PM: Brown says no injuries are reported so far.
5:18 PM: Officials tell WWN that the Wayne County Emergency Management Agency and the Richmond Police Department continue coordinating an evacuation response. Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, IDEM and a hazardous materials team are en route to further assess the dangers involved in the fire and smoke.
5:15 PM: Western Wayne News reporter Mike Emery is on the scene of the fire. According to Tim Brown, chief of the Richmond Fire Department, a recycling operation at the site had various buildings and vehicles there filled “floor to ceiling” with plastic.
The blaze appears to have started as a fire in one of the semi trucks parked at the scene in the middle of the complex. There are six buildings currently involved in the fire; the wind has caused the fire to spread across multiple structures. Apparently there has not been enough water available to extinguish the fire, so they are focused on limiting the spread.
We are doing the best we can with the little water that’s available here.Tim Brown, Richmond Fire Department
Brown said that it will take at least several hours to extinguish the fire and that crews are expected to be working at the site through tomorrow or longer.
5:08 PM: A view of the smoke from North D Street, taken by Jennie Stegall:
5:03 PM: An image of smoke as seen from the main post office parking lot in Richmond, taken by Lynn Pickett who tells the WWN, “smoke is still billowing from the source and blowing due east.”
4:55 PM: Firefighting crews continue to coordinate a response to the fire, which apparently continues to rage as smoke billows over the city. Officials are reiterating that anyone within a half mile of the scene, and especially those downwind to the east, need to evacuate. The Western Wayne News believes this is due to concern about burning chemicals being released into the air but we have not yet received official confirmation of any specific danger.
4:46 PM: IU East has moved to limited operations where on-campus activities are canceled and classes will be conducted online.
4:44 PM: Ivy Tech has canceled on campus activities and classes are virtual for the rest of the day.
4:41 PM: The City of Richmond has shared, “If you need assistance to evacuate from the half mile radius of the industrial fire on NW F Street call (765) 983-7580.”
4:40 PM: The Boys & Girls Club is asking families to pick up club members from the First Bank Unit as soon as possible:
4:36 PM: There are multiple reports of a tractor-trailer vehicle on fire near or adjacent to the structure fire.
4:34 PM: First responders on the scene report that a 500-pound natural gas container there is off-gassing. It’s unclear if the tank is on fire.
4:24 PM: Richmond Community Schools has canceled all after school activities.
4:22 PM: Terry Hawkins Wiesehan shared this image of the fire and smoke showing up on weather radar:
4:19 PM: Mayor Dave Snow posted this image sharing the evacuation zone area:
4:16 PM: There are unconfirmed reports of melted plastic debris blowing around and away from the fire scene, landing as far away as New Paris, OH.
4:15 PM: Richmond Power & Light has noted they are aware of power outages in the area of the fire.
4:10 PM: Wayne County Emergency Management has issued an evacuation / shelter in place order for the area:
“There is a large industrial fire at 358 NW F St in Richmond, Indiana. Evacuation orders for residents and persons within 0.5 miles of the incident has been issued. Those outside of the 0.5 mile and east/northeast (downwind) of the incident are encouraged to shelter in place. To shelter in place, turn off HVAC units, keep windows and doors closed, and bring pets inside until advised further.”
4:02 PM: The view from Centerville:
3:59 PM: A resident commenting online indicated that a train stopped on the tracks at Northwest L Street is one of the many hazards making it difficult to navigate the streets in the area. Again, officials are asking members of the public to stay away so they can access the fire scene.
3:58 PM: The Western Wayne News has made this article visible to all visitors, regardless of subscription status.
3:55 PM: Scanner traffic indicates that current responders include Richmond Fire Department, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, Indiana State Police and that Boston, Centerville, and Fountain City volunteer fire departments are en route to the scene.
3:51 PM: Photo and video from near the scene by Jim Tanner:
3:50 PM: A structure fire broke out in northwest Richmond near NW 5th Street and NW F Street Monday afternoon, sending plumes of smoke into the air that were visible across the city and in surrounding communities. Multiple firefighting companies and first responders are on the scene, attempting to extinguish the fire and closing down area roads. Officials are asking the public to stay away from the scene so that emergency vehicles can have clear passage.