Firefighters battle large blaze at Merrillville, Indiana apartment building

Stephanie Wade Image
Sunday, January 14, 2024
Firefighters battle large blaze at NW Indiana apartment building
A fire in Merrillville, Indiana broke out at an apartment building in the 100 block of East 54th Avenue on Saturday.

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (WLS) -- Firefighters have been working for hours to put out flames at a large apartment building in Northwest Indiana on Saturday afternoon.

The Merrillville building in the 100 block of East 54th Avenue caught fire around 2 p.m. Thankfully, only one person suffered minor smoke inhalation, and no one else was seriously hurt.

Several area fire department battled the blaze in the bitter cold.

Teena Woods lives in the building next door to the 24-unit building that caught fire near Broadway.

"I just hope they can put this out. All these firefighters out here, I hope they can put this out," Woods said. "I smelled it, so I started to panic and I called my next-door neighbors. Everybody's running back-and-forth seeing if everybody's OK."

The roof is now torched and completely gone from the three-story building.

When firefighters first arrived, they said, the blaze was in a wall of the building, but the gusting winds helped spread the fire.

"This is wild. This is blowing my mind," Woods said.

That, plus a limited water supply, hampered their ability to put out the fire for several hours.

"Scary. Scary. I immediately went into my praying mode," Woods said.

The Merrillville fire chief said everything was stacked against them.

Merrillville Councilwoman Shauna Haynes Edwards came to the scene to work with the American Red Cross, which is handling relocation efforts for residents impacted.

"I was concerned about our citizens and our residents, because it is super cold. Not that any fire is a good fire, but the fact that it's happening now, our families are going to be displaced for now," Edwards said. "We are going to see what we can do, how many families are actually displaced and see what the next steps are from there to make sure that they are safe and warm for the duration of what has taken place."

It is unclear exactly how many people were displaced by the fire. The cause of the fire is also unknown.