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Local firefighters rush to help victims

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About 150 people were waiting when local firefighters and emergency workers arrived at a southside elementary school.

The people had just come from homes on Fieldfare Way after a massive explosion demolished two homes, set others on fire and blew debris for blocks.

Many were in their pajamas and had children or pets with them, and some needed medical treatment.

White River Township Fire Department Lt. Greg Hurrle spent about 90 minutes dividing the victims at Mary Bryan Elementary School on Stop 11 Road into those who needed shelter and supplies and those who were injured. Hurrle estimated he and his crew treated six people with injuries ranging from cuts to chest pain, and took four to hospitals.

Both Greenwood and White River Township firefighters also helped search houses for about three-and-a-half hours to see if anyone was still inside.

The firefighters who inspected those houses said it looked as though a bomb had gone off, Greenwood Fire Department Chief James Sipes and Hurrle said.

“Usually in Indiana, when they see anything like that, it’s from a tornado,” Hurrle said.

Johnson County, which at any given time has about 100 firefighters on duty compared to about 1,000 in Marion County, sent 14 firefighters to help after the explosion in Indianapolis. Ten of the firefighters came from White River Township and four from the Greenwood Fire Department, Hurrle and Sipes said.

Greenwood and White River Township received calls from the Indianapolis Fire Department almost immediately after the explosion. Firefighters who responded first called for more help once they arrived at the scene, White River Township Fire Department Chief Jeremy Pell said.

In all, up to 70 firefighters were at the scene.

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