Fire at condemned Elkhart building deemed incendiary, officials say

ELKHART, Ind.—Firefighters responded on Sunday evening to a fire at a building that has been slated for demolition since 2016, according to the Elkhart City Fire Department.

Firefighters were called to a building in the 600 block of W. Franklin Street in Elkhart on March 29 around 5 p.m. for reports of a fire.

Crews arrived to find heavy smoke throughout the building and fire on the first floor. There were also three broken windows.

One man was found to be living in the back of the house on the first floor in a room that was separated from the rest of the house by a boarded up doorway.

The man told investigators that he heard what sounded like glass breaking near the front of the house and then he smelled smoke shortly after.

A neighbor called 911 and the man was able to walk outside.

There were no working smoke detectors inside of the building at the time of the fire, officials said.

In 2013, the building was tagged by the city as “unsafe for human occupancy,” and it was tagged for demolition in 2016.

According to the man living there, electricity, natural gas, and water had been shut off and the meters were removed years ago. 

Investigators determined that the fire appeared to be incendiary in nature, or ignited deliberately, and it was caused by an undetermined substance. 

Fire officials did not release any other information about the fire.

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