1. #1
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    Post Indianapolis Cargo Truck Fire-Serious Burn Victims

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Fire roared through a cargo truck Tuesday on
    a busy freeway, injuring more than a dozen members of the painting
    crew inside, some of them critically.
    The truck was southbound on Interstate 465 near Indianapolis
    International Airport when the fire began.
    The flames started when a cigarette ignited fumes from paint
    thinner or lacquer thinner, which burst into flames, said Michael
    Olinger, medical director of Wishard Ambulance Service.
    Motorists reported seeing a cargo door at the rear of the truck
    open and occupants making the choice between jumping onto the
    highway from the moving truck or getting badly burned.
    Some stopped to help the victims. Witnesses said the fire burned
    the clothes and shoes off some of the painters and left their skin
    in shreds.
    Wishard Memorial Hospital received six victims. Five were listed
    in critical condition and one in serious condition Tuesday evening.
    Some had second and third-degree burns over 90 percent of their
    bodies.
    Seven more people went to Methodist Hospital, and three were
    listed in critical condition. The conditions of the other four were
    not available.
    "It's going to be a long-term recovery in the burn ward. And
    depending on how many skin grafts are needed, we're looking at a
    considerable amount of time at the hospital and potentially some
    fatalities," Olinger said.
    Eight of the 13 patients are on ventilators, he said.
    Four people riding in the cab were unhurt.
    The victims' identities were not immediately known, state police
    said.
    The truck's driver, Gary Smith, initially heard a commotion
    coming from the back of the truck. He and the three other riders in
    the cab at first thought the riders in the back were fighting,
    police said.
    When Smith pulled over, he realized the truck was on fire.
    The truck belonged to RPT Painting Co. of Franklin. Everyone
    inside was an employee of the company. When the flames were put
    out, only a scorched shell of the vehicle remained.
    The fire caused a 10-mile backup in the southbound lanes of
    I-465 during the afternoon rush hour.

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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  2. #2
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    Post Followup 7/30

    By MARK JEWELL
    Associated Press Writer
    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A truck traveling down a busy freeway with a
    crew of painters was engulfed in flames in a blaze that may have
    been started by a cigarette igniting fumes from paint thinner or
    lacquer. One man was killed and 12 others riding with him in the
    back of the truck were critically burned.
    Witnesses said the workers piled out of the truck screaming,
    their clothing on fire and their lungs seared by toxic fumes.
    Passers-by poured bottled water on the men to soothe their burns
    until ambulances arrived after Tuesday's fire.
    The burned men, ages 18 to 32, lay hospitalized Wednesday with
    burns covering as much as 90 percent of their bodies.
    "It's going to be a long-term recovery in the burn ward. And
    depending on how many skin grafts are needed, we're looking at a
    considerable amount of time at the hospital and potentially some
    fatalities," said Michael Olinger, medical director of Wishard
    Ambulance Service.
    Efforts to piece together the chain of events was complicated by
    the fact that eight survivors were placed on ventilators to help
    them breathe, and most were unconscious and under sedation to limit
    their pain, doctors said Wednesday.
    "You can't talk to somebody that is incoherent," said Sgt. Ray
    Poole, an Indiana State Police spokesman. "That's why the
    investigation has hit a little bit of a wall. Once they come out of
    that condition, hopefully they'll be interested in talking."
    Temperatures inside the truck were believed to have reached as
    high as 1,000 degrees as paints and thinners in plastic containers
    caught fire in the enclosed space.
    Several men were so severely burned that family members were
    allowed to see them only if they wore protective clothing to guard
    against the possibility that they might infect the men, whose
    burned skin is unable to protect them from germs.
    Most of the men faced multiple surgeries, including skin grafts,
    and long hospital stays.
    "We're not talking about hours or days here," said Chuck
    Schufflebarger, emergency services director at Methodist Hospital,
    one of four hospitals treating victims.
    John W. Webster died overnight after suffering third-degree
    burns over 90 percent of his body.
    The men were all employees of the RPT Painting, which is based
    in Franklin, about 30 miles south of Indianapolis. The driver and
    three others in the cab were not injured.
    Phone calls rang unanswered at RPT Painting Wednesday. A phone
    message was left for an Indianapolis attorney for the company,
    Craig Helmreich.
    The workers were packed into the enclosed cargo area of the
    truck because another company vehicle had broken down, said Trooper
    Andy Shank. Police said it did not appear to be a violation for the
    men to be riding in the back.
    The fire was initially blamed on a cigarette. Lead investigator
    Rick Batza said Wednesday it was too early to determine the exact
    cause, but authorities were not ruling out a cigarette.

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

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  3. #3
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    Post Investigation hampered

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A dozen painting company workers who
    survived a deadly truck fire were so badly burned that only two
    could talk to investigators, hampering a probe into the accident.
    Investigators believe that chemicals spilled in the enclosed
    cargo area where the workers were riding as the truck traveled down
    a busy highway Tuesday, but they were unsure what ignited the
    blaze. An emergency worker initially blamed a cigarette.
    The fire trapped 13 employees, ages 18 to 46, who were sitting
    in the cargo area among plastic containers of paints and thinners.
    The men were sharing the truck after another broke down.
    Burns covered as much as 90 percent of their bodies, and their
    lungs were seared by superheated toxic gases. One worker,
    30-year-old John Webster, died from his injuries, and most of the
    others face long hospital stays and multiple surgeries, including
    skin grafts.
    "We're not talking about hours or days here," said Chuck
    Shufflebarger, emergency services director at Methodist Hospital,
    where some victims were treated.
    Investigators said they would have to wait for any clues the men
    might be able to offer.
    "You can't talk to somebody that is incoherent," said Sgt. Ray
    Poole, an Indiana State Police spokesman.
    Four other employees in the truck's cab were uninjured.
    All aboard the truck worked for RPT Painting, based in Franklin,
    about 30 miles south of Indianapolis.
    Phone calls to the company rang unanswered, and an Indianapolis
    attorney for the company, Craig Helmreich, did not return a phone
    message.
    Authorities did not believe the presence of the 13 men in the
    back of the truck violated any laws.
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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