On Monday, Jan. 4, 2010, an electrical fire destroyed the Texas Roadhouse Restaurant in Indianapolis, IN. Besides facing a well-involved structure fire, Indianapolis firefighters were hampered by five-degree weather with a five-degree-below zero wind chill and frozen hydrants. The one-story, 5,000-square-foot building was erected in the 1980s of heavy-timber-type construction. The building had a steel truss metal deck roof. The building contained no fire detection or fire protection systems.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department received a report of a burglar alarm at the restaurant at 12:37 A.M. Investigating officers reported smoke coming from the roof of the building. The Indianapolis Fire Department was dispatched to a reported structure fire at 1405 N. Shadeland Ave. at 12:42. Responding on the alarm were Engines 42, 25, 44 and 41, all 1,500-gpm pumpers; Ladders 43 and 20, both 100-foot aerial ladders; Squad 10; and Medic 44 with a total of 32 firefighters. Battalion Chief Shawn Grass, Chief's Executive Officer Brent Morris, Safety Officer John Borel and Accountability Officer Tracey Badgley also responded.
Upon arrival at 12:46, firefighters found heavy smoke coming from the roof and fire in the rear kitchen area. The restaurant was closed for the night and unoccupied at the time of the fire. Engine 44 laid a 700-foot, five-inch supply from a hydrant to the scene. The crew from Engine 44 advanced a 200-foot, 1¾-inch attack line through the front door into the kitchen, where they encountered moderate fire at the ceiling level. Engine 25 arrived on scene and two crew members advanced another 200-foot, 1¾-inch attack line into the kitchen from Engine 44. One additional 1¾-inch attack line was stretched, but was not charged.
As Engine 44's engineer was waiting for the hydrant supply line to be charged, he was notified that the hydrant was frozen. Engine 25 proceeded to a hydrant at 16th and Shadeland. This hydrant was also found to be frozen. Crews located the third-closest hydrant, but it was also found to be frozen. In the meantime, firefighters were using booster tank water on the initial attack. Crews were only inside for approximately three minutes as they quickly depleted their booster tank water. The crew from Engine 41 was assigned as the rapid intervention team. Engine 42 was the third-due engine and laid 500 feet of five-inch supply line from a hydrant on 14th Street to the scene. This engine would supply Engine 44, Ladder 43 and a 2½-inch attack line.
On the Defensive
Grass ordered the crews out of the building as fire began to break through the roof. Defensive operations were initiated at 12:55. Ladder 43 was positioned in the north parking lot and set up for master stream operations. Ladder 20 was positioned at the southeast corner of the building and set up for aerial master stream operations. Ladder 43 was supplied by Engine 42 and Ladder 20 was supplied by Engine 20 with five-inch lines.
At 12:56, extra companies were requested. Engine 10, a 1,500-gpm pumper; Ladder 10, a 100-foot aerial; and Ladder 44, a 107-foot aerial, responded with 12 firefighters. Ladder 44 was positioned at the east corner and set up for ladder pipe operations. This ladder was supplied by Engine 25 with a five-inch line. Ladder 10 was staged and assigned as an additional rapid intervention team.
With the continued use of three aerial master streams; two 2½-inch lines and five 1¾-inch lines, Shift Commander John Walker was able to declare the fire under control at 4:30 A.M. Fifty-four firefighters operated six engines and three aerials extinguishing the fire. Five engines laid 2,950 feet of five-inch supply line to reach four operable hydrants. Over 200,000 gallons of water was needed to extinguish the fire. The last firefighters left the scene at 9:30 A.M. on Jan. 5. One firefighter suffered minor injuries.
An investigation into the origin and cause of the fire was conducted by the Indianapolis Fire Department/Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Fire Investigation Unit. It was determined that the fire was electrical in nature, originating in the attic area. Damage was estimated at $1.5 million.
JAY K. BRADISH/IFPA, Firehouse® news editor, is a former captain in the Bradford Township, PA, Fire Department. He has been a volunteer firefighter and fire photographer for more than 25 years.