8 Plucked From Indy Apartment Fire

INDIANAPOLIS --

A fire early Sunday morning on Indianapolis' east side forced at least 20 people out of their homes.

The blaze began at about 5:45 a.m. at the Washington Arms apartments, in the 1200 block of East Washington Street.

When firefighters arrived, they saw several people hanging out windows trying to escape the smoke and flames. Firefighters were able to pluck eight people out of the burning building.

Indianapolis fire Capt. Rita Reith said the fire began in one of three buildings, but that smoke spread through all three.

"According to residents, approximately half of the units were vacant," Reith said. "Medics on the scene treated 11 patients, 10 for smoke inhalation and one for lacerations."

Barbara Boatman said she was asleep when a neighbor pounded on the door to alert her to the fire.

"Next thing I know, smoke was just everywhere. You couldn't see," she said. "I couldn't even see the floor. I was ... tapping my feet, trying to walk."

Residents were not permitted to return to their homes because of damage and because the utilities had been shut off.

"The Red Cross stated that they had about 15 people needing assistance, some of whom were homeless," Reith said.

"I want to get back into my apartment as soon as I can," said resident Shawn McMillan.

Investigators aren't sure what caused the blaze. The apartment's owner said some apartments were destroyed, but others suffered smoke damage.

Damage was estimated at $100,000.

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