On Tuesday, June 22, 2010, a two-alarm fire sparked by a lightning strike destroyed a strip mall containing 12 stores in Carmel, IN. Heavy thunderstorms and severe cloud-to-ground lighting hampered firefighting operations.

The mall was constructed in 1999 of Type II and Type V materials. A rubber membrane roof covered the Type II construction and an asphalt shingle roof was over the Type V construction. The building contained 32,000 square feet of mixed-use mercantile space. There were no fire protection or detection systems in the building. Twelve businesses were damaged or destroyed by the fire.

Initial Operations

The Carmel Fire Department was dispatched to a reported fire at Weston Shoppes at 4000 West 106th St. at 1:24 A.M. Engines 41, 43 and 45, all 1,500-gpm pumpers; Ladder 41, a 102-foot aerial platform with a 1,500-gpm pump, Heavy Rescue 45 and ALS Ambulance 45 responded with 30 firefighters under the command of Battalion Chief Frank Vallone.

First-arriving Heavy Rescue 45 found heavy fire coming from the roof and the A-side overhang. Heavy fire was also visible inside businesses at the north end of the building. Engine 41 laid a 400-foot, five-inch hydrant supply line to a position at the southeast corner (rear) of the building. Engine 45 was positioned at the southwest corner (front) of the building and hooked onto a hydrant with a 500-foot, five-inch supply line. Engine 43 laid a 500-foot, five-inch hydrant supply line to a position on the west side (front, center) of the building. Rescue 45 was positioned at the front of the building. Ladder 41 was positioned at the front center of the building. The crews from Engine 45 and Rescue 45 advanced a 200-foot, 2½-inch attack line to the front overhang area of the building. These crews operated at this position for approximately five minutes before withdrawing due to deteriorating conditions and possible collapse of the overhang.

Vallone ordered defensive operations to be initiated at 1:45 A.M. Engines 41, 43 and 45 all placed their deck guns into operation along with numerous handlines. Ladder 41 was set up for aerial master stream operations and supplied with a 100-foot, five-inch line from a hydrant in the front parking lot.

Second Alarm

Vallone then requested a second alarm. Carmel Engines 42 and 44, both 1,500-gpm pumpers, and crews responded on the alarm. Mutual aid from the Indianapolis Fire Department, Pike Township Fire Department and Lebanon Fire Department was also requested at this time. Indianapolis Engine 4, a 2,000-gpm pumper; Pike Township Engine 113, a 1,500-gpm pumper; and Ladder 111, a 100-foot aerial platform; Battalion Chief Dave Murray and Safety Officer Rick McKinney from Pike Township Fire Department, and Lebanon Engine 140, a 1,500-gpm pumper, responded.

Pike Township Engine 113 was positioned on the northwest side of the building. Firefighters from this engine operated a portable deluge gun and a 1¾-inch attack line. Pike Township Ladder 111 was positioned on the west side of the building and set up for aerial master stream operations. Ladder 111 was supplied by a five-inch line west of where they were set up. Indianapolis Engine 4 reverse-laid 600 feet of five-inch line to complete Engine 113's five-inch supply line from a hydrant on Michigan Road. The crew from Indianapolis Engine 4 assisted the Pike Township firefighters. Lebanon Engine 140 sttod by on the west side of the building. Firefighters were forced to lower the two aerial platforms at different times during the incident due to strong thunder storms, heavy downpours and tornado warnings. Vallone declared the fire under control at 3:30 A.M. and began releasing mutual aid units. The last Carmel units left the scene at 3:20 P.M., 12 hours after the fire was brought under control.


Fifty-eight firefighters operated nine engines, two aerial platforms and one heavy rescue at the scene. Five hydrants supplied water from the municipal water system to extinguish the fire. There were no injuries. Businesses destroyed by the fire included El Rodeo Restaurant, Weston Cleaners and Lovely Nails. Suffering fire damage were Cork and Cracker, Message Envy and Allure Nails. Water damaged Hallmark Cards, Ace Vacuum, Subway, The UPS Store, The Tanning Company and Blockbuster Video.

Carmel Fire Department investigators determined that the fire was started by a lightning strike to the building in an area near the north portion that contained Weston Cleaners, El Rodeo Restaurant and Lovely Nails. The exact point of origin was not determined. Damage was estimated at $2.6 million to the building and $2.5 million to the contents.