The firefighters arrived on the scene at 1:45 a.m. By that point, more than three dozen cars were already in flames at Insurance Auto Auctions on South Harding St. Firefighters deployed tankers to cart water deep into the auto yard.
By 3:26 a.m., they had gotten the fire under control, per the Indianapolis Fire Department.
No Injuries in Fire, Firefighters Say
No injuries resulted from the fire, the IFD said. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Shortly after firefighters extinguished the fire, IFD Battalion Chief Rita Reith told the Indianapolis Star that the management of Insurance Auto Auctions “was looking into the possibility” that a lightning strike caused the fire.
No one was present to witness what sparked the fire. The auto yard had closed at 6 p.m. But Indianapolis saw scattered thunderstorms with lightning late Tuesday night.
Multiple people in the immediate area of the blaze had called 9-1-1 to report the fire and “possible explosions,” according to Reith.
Officials told the Star the explosions probably resulted from magnesium product, tires and fuel tanks in the vehicles.
Firefighter Shortage Strikes Some States
Meanwhile, even as local firefighters in places like Indiana continue to bravely tackle infernos in their own backyards, the federal firefighting force is grappling with staffing shortages and low morale.
That comes as wildfire season is growing longer and more intense, Colorado Public Radio (CPR) reports. So as a temporary stopgap measure, Forest Service employees who don’t typically fight fires – i.e. forestry or range technicians – are joining firefighters to beat back the wildfires that are destroying the western U.S.
The temporary employees only make around $13 an hour. And they work only during the summer months.
“It’s just a convenient bureaucratic sidestep of just labeling us forestry technicians so that they don’t have to give us the same benefits,” Chris Ives, a squad leader for a crew in the San Juan National Forest near Durango in southwestern Colorado, told CPR.
The shortage not only impacts the federal firefighting force, but also some local fire departments. And it’s not just hitting wildfire-ravaged states like Colorado and California, but even states like Pennsylvania and Maine. It’s a problem across the country.
Increasing firefighter pay is one step governments could take to improve recruitment and retention efforts. Especially in western areas prone to wildfires, states may need more firefighters in coming years.