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Indianapolis fire injures four, forces evacuations of 100 homes

Four firefighters were injured Saturday and more than 100 homes near downtown Indianapolis had to be evacuated after a recycling facility caught fire and collapsed.

None of the injuries were serious, and by Sunday residents were allowed to return home.

The blaze took eight hours to control Saturday as more than two-dozen 30-gallon propane tanks continually exploded and the fire sent up an acrid cloud that could be seen for miles over the city, officials said.

Nearby buildings and dumpsters momentarily caught fire as strong winds blew the embers from the blaze to the surrounding area.

The fire was expected to continue smoldering for "several days," the Indianapolis Fire Department said in a Sunday-morning statement. The department was having trouble extinguishing an 85,000-square-foot collection area for tires that had caught fire.

The fire started at the building just southwest of Indianapolis' downtown around 1 p.m. Saturday. Firefighters said they prevented a large explosion from a 500-gallon propane tank inside the building Saturday by keeping it hosed with water as the fire burned.

The industrial area was not well covered by fire hydrants, officials said, and at one point Saturday a passing train ran over a hose being used to to fight the blaze.

 “I said, ‘Oh my God, these guys are crazy. How are you even going to try to contain a fire like, that massive?’ ” Juan Baca, 29 and among those evacuated, told the Indianapolis Star, referring to the fire crews that raced toward the fire. “If it was me, I would think about it twice before I did anything like that.”

Officials have not yet determined the cause of the fire.

In November, a home explosion in Indianapolis destroyed more than 30 homes and killed two people in what police said was attempted insurance fraud.

One of the defendants in that case, Mark Leonard, was later accused of trying to arrange a murder-for-hire plot against a witness from his jail cell.

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