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Concerns raised over squatters after apartment fire on city’s near east side

IFD battles early morning building fire

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An early Wednesday morning fire is exposing greater concerns in one Indianapolis neighborhood.

People living near the now-destroyed 100-year-old building say it was empty until squatters set up shelter.

After the fire, some neighbors say this was a historic home admired by some for its architecture, but now it’s gone.

“This neighborhood needs help, and I hope we get it,” said Jeff Ramey, a resident.

Resident Mark Sims said, “It’s an eyesore, and it makes the whole neighborhood look bad,” said Mark Sims, a resident.

The blaze ripped through the building, turning much of it into ashes.

According to the Indianapolis Fire Department, the fire began around 4 a.m. at the intersection of East Washington and Wallace Avenue.

They say luckily, no one was inside the building at the time of the fire.

“Bound to happen. People go in there, and they do drugs. Then they light candles. It happens all the time in these houses around here,” Ramey said.

After the fire, News 8 found broken windows and the roof covered in soot.

Some say they would often see drug activity, homeless people, and crime happening inside the vacant apartment building.

“It’s crime in the neighborhood. It’s home. It’s here, and the police are trying, but they can’t get rid of it,” Ramey said.

According to the fire department, one firefighter was slightly injured and taken to IU Health Methodist Hospital.

Officials have not said if the fire was set deliberately, and people say it has happened before.

“This is not the first fire. There’s been a previous fire back here on the main level where it happened probably about six or seven months ago. Then this happened,” Sims said.

IMPD confirmed officers were called to the building for an arson investigation in June 2021.

The outcome of the investigation was unknown.

Some neighbors say they hope the city will work to revitalize this particular area sooner rather than later.