When firefighters found that the fire was being fed at least in part by a natural gas leak, they contacted NIPSCO. On the utility's advice, she said, they evacuated 10 more people from nearby homes. The 16 evacuees are being helped by the American Red Cross, she said. While extinguishing the blaze, there was a small explosion forcing firefighters from the structure until gas could be turned off.
Fleming said NIPSCO cut off gas to the structure, but firefighters at 9 a.m. were continuing to fight it defensively; that is, they were not going into the two-story building, but fighting the fire from outside.
Fire investigators were at the scene early Tuesday afternoon after the building had been torn down.
Stretches of Huffman and Sherman were blocked to traffic. At about 9:30 a.m., flames were still breaking out in parts of the building, even as part of the rear of the structure was being torn down to open up the interior for streams of water.