News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

May 1, 2014

Warehouse fire labeled ‘suspicious’

Building owned by out-of-state company

TERRE HAUTE — A fire Wednesday night at a vacant warehouse on the city’s south side has been labeled “suspicious,” for now.

No one was believed to be inside the building at the time of the fire. No injuries were reported while firefighters battled the fire.

Terre Haute Fire Chief Jeff Fisher told the Tribune-Star on Thursday that the fire burned so hot that the mortar in the walls crumbled, making the structure unsafe for investigators.

“It is labeled suspicious at this time,” Fisher said. “Due to heavy damage, people are not going in until it is safe.”

There were no utilities running to the building, which had been vacant for several years. It is owned by an out-of-state company and is on a 16-acre lot that also includes another building formerly used as a mail distribution center.

The fire could have been started by squatters or people playing in the old building, or as an intentional arson, Fisher said.

Firefighters arrived on scene at 8:25 p.m. and had the blaze under control at 10:15 p.m.

“We battled it in defensive mode,” Fisher said.

It took a while to get to the building because of a locked security fence around the property, he said. Firefighters were finished at the scene at 12:20 a.m.

Arson investigator Lt. Norm Loudermilk told the Tribune-Star that the building was empty, but the roof collapsing into the building fueled the fire.

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