UPDATE: Fatal fire at Meridian Towers apartment complex: officials still on the scene
Officials confirm the area near West Jackson Street between Franklin and Meridian streets will be closed during an investigation to determine the cause of a fatal fire that broke out on the fourth floor of the Meridian Towers apartment complex Tuesday afternoon.
“It will remain closed as long as necessary to complete the investigation,” said Brazil Police Chief Clint McQueen, who advised further information would be released by Brazil Fire Chief Jake Bennett when it is available. “We offered crowd and traffic control and helped in the evacuation of residents.”
At 2 p.m. Tuesday, Clay County Coroner Nick French confirmed one fatality from the fire, but did not immediately disclose further details.
The Clay County 911 Dispatch Center took the initial report of the fire shortly before 12:30 p.m.
“When that call went out, everyone within hearing distance of the dispatch came to help,” said one emergency responder who was too busy to stop and talk more.
Heavy black smoke was billowing out the windows of the fourth floor when firefighters arrived on the scene. The Brazil Fire Department ladder truck was used by firefighters to assist in helping one person out of the building, while law enforcement officers from the Brazil Police, Clay County Sheriff’s and Knightsville Town Marshall helped evacuate other residents.
Jail staff members from the Clay County Justice Center brought the transport bus and the Clay Community School Corporation provided several buses to assist in moving people from the area.
Initially, the Brazil Armory and the Clay County YMCA were contacted about housing the people displaced by the fire but neither the Armory or the YMCA were equipped to handle "the possibility of having people stay overnight," said Bryan Husband, Clay County Emergency Management director.
An unknown number of Meridian Towers residents displaced from the fourth floor were transported to the Knightsville Community Center about 4 p.m.
Several STAR ambulances were on the scene to assist with any medical needs for the residents or first responders.
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s State Fire Marshal Office was on the scene to determine the cause of the fire.
Further information was not immediately available due to firefighters still working inside the facility and investigating the cause of the fire.