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WATCH NOW: Firefighters reeling from more than a dozen suspicious blazes in Gary
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WATCH NOW: Firefighters reeling from more than a dozen suspicious blazes in Gary

From the 5 stories to know from the weekend series
  • Updated

Multiple 'suspicious' fires were fought by Gary and aiding crews overnight throughout the city, officials said. Most of the structures were believed to be abandoned buildings. Video shows crews fighting flames near the 2500 block of Washington Street, 800 block of Pennsylvania Street and 500 block of Tompkins Street.

GARY — Firefighters battled blaze after blaze Saturday night into Sunday, extinguishing fires at 17 vacant buildings in 11 different locations throughout the city, officials said.

The fires are considered suspicious, and the Gary Fire Department is in the early stages of an investigation, Fire Chief Sean O'Donnell said.

The rash of suspicious fires was the second reported in Gary since April 21, when at least seven vacant buildings burned overnight.

The weekend fires began about 10:45 p.m. Saturday and continued into Sunday morning, according to Deputy Fire Chief Mark Jones and O'Donnell.

They involved buildings mostly in the downtown and Midtown areas, including the 2500 block of Washington Street and the 800 blocks of Rhode Island and Pennsylvania streets, O'Donnell said.

Firefighters had to return to some locations after flames rekindled, he said.

Numerous departments from Lake and Porter counties answered Gary's calls for mutual aid April 21 and last weekend, O'Donnell said.

Running from fire to fire can be taxing, but the firefighters from Gary and other departments did "a phenomenal job," O'Donnell said.

No injuries to residents or firefighters were reported in the weekend fires, Mayor Jerome Prince said.

Even one fire raises concerns for city officials about the safety of residents and first responders, the mayor said.

If the fires are determined to be arson, it's disheartening to think someone could have such little regard for others' safety, Prince said.

Ride along with LaPorte Police Specialist Justin Dyer as he patrols the streets of LaPorte.

Prince said he stayed up late, receiving updates on the fires and several weekend shootings.

Despite the city's limited resources, firefighters and police responded "absolutely accordingly" and did the best they could, he said.

"We have to commend the men and women that do their job on a daily basis with the limited resources they have at their fingertips," Prince said. "They do a pretty remarkable job, and without much fanfare."

Anyone with more information on the fires is asked to call Gary fire investigators at 219-881-5220. 

Check back at nwi.com for updates as they become available.

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Visuals and Online Interactives Director

Kale is a photojournalist and digital producer with the Times. He is a Region native, hailing from Schererville. He shoots photos, writes feature stories and produces Byline, a Times podcast. Email: kale.wilk@nwi.com Phone: 219-933-3393

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