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Authorities ID 2 men who died in Richmond high-rise fire

RICHMOND, Ind. (WISH) — Authorities have identified the two residents who died in a high-rise apartment fire on Monday afternoon. 

Andrew J. Thornburg, 48, died from smoke inhalation, and Richard Wilkinson, 56, died of heart failure. Thornburg was a resident of the fifth-floor apartment where the fire originated, said Fire Chief Jerry Purcell in a news release issued Tuesday afternoon. 

The cause of the fire was accidental and involved smoking materials, the fire chief said. 

The fire was reported at 5 p.m. Monday at Interfaith Apartments, a six-story, 120-apartment complex at 34 N.W. Fifth St. That’s a few blocks north of Earlham College. 

Two paramedics and four other people were taken to Reid Hospital. Purcell said the Richmond medics were checked for smoke inhalation. The fire chief said the other four people had injuries not believed to be life-threatening. 

Purcell said the fire damage was isolated to a fifth-floor apartment. No one was in that apartment when the fire broke out. 

Smoke damage filled the two top floors of the complex, which was built in the 1970s, Purcell said. Residents of those two floors were evacuated and cannot return for an uncertain amount of time. He said the American Red Cross had opened a shelter for the 31 residents who were displaced Monday night, and about six people used the shelter. 

Residents of the first through fourth floors were be allowed to return to their apartments, the fire chief said. 

Richmond is a city of 35,000 about 60 miles east of Indianapolis.