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9 people inside west-side church on fire escape unhurt

9 escape church fire

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Nine people were inside a west-side church when it caught fire Friday night, but no one was hurt, authorities report.

Indianapolis Fire Department was called to the fire shortly after 11:05 p.m. Friday at Celestial Church of Christ, 3310 W. 18th St. That’s across the street from Ernie Pyle Elementary School and northeast of the intersection of East 16th Street and North Tibbs Avenue.

Rita Reith, a spokeswoman for the department, said the nine people live in the church. They were sleeping in the basement and awoke to the smell of smoke and the sound of smoke detectors. No events had happened earlier at the church, she said.

“Had they not had a working smoke alarm, it could’ve been a very different situation that we are talking about tonight,” said Reith. “Because you’re talking about nine people asleep in a basement, quite a distance away. And as we all know, the smoke is far more toxic than the fire would’ve been in the short amount of time.”

Damage was contained to the church foyer. A damage estimate was not immediately available.

The fire appeared to be under control by 11:20 p.m. The cause was not immediately clear.

Reith said the people were unable to stay at the church after the fire.