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Photo by Jennifer Dawson/Times Sentinel
Zionsville Times Sentinel

Flames visible for miles consumed a 14-unit apartment building south of Zionsville Friday, Nov. 17.

Units from four departments fought the blaze for at least two hours before getting it under control. The two-story building in the Reserve at Williams Glen, on Bennett Parkway north of 106th Street west of Michigan Road, was reduced to a charred hulk.

An unidentified woman who was treated for smoke inhalation was the only person injured.

Flames had engulfed the center rear of Building 1880’s first floor when the first Zionsville Fire Department engine arrived, Doug Gauthier, ZFD public information officer, said. Firefighters arrived at the complex within six minutes.

Gauthier said the cause of the fire will probably remain undetermined because the apartment where the fire started was completely destroyed, making it difficult to recover any evidence.

Ryan White, 22, lived in that apartment, with his mother Brenda White. Gauthier said Ryan woke to smoke and broke his bedroom window to escape. He then broke the living room window and another bedroom window, looking for his mother. Gauthier said the ventilation fed the fire and ignited the wood deck and vinyl siding and shot to the roof. His mother had left the apartment 20 minutes before the fire started.

Zionsville police officer Adrian Martin, who was one of the first officers on the scene, said he went door-to-door to warn residents but found no one home.

A maintenance man alerted Karie Fitzwater the building was on fire, she said.

Fitzwater said one of her neighbors was home with her son as well as another neighbor.

The woman ran down a hallway screaming, “My baby! My baby!”, Fitzwater said.

Fitzwater said she believed her neighbor’s baby was safe in the car. Fitzwater’s daughter, Caylie Phelps, 17, was not home when the fire started. Fitzwater rescued Honey, the family dog.

Fitzwater and her daughter stayed with family Friday night.

Although Fitzwater said she has renter’s insurance, it was not much of a comfort.

“I’m sick to my stomach,” Fitzwater said. “I’m probably going to lose everything.”

Reserve resident Brittany Parris, 19, also stayed with family. Parris, who moved into her apartment Thursday, just one day before the fire, said she felt “numb” and “shocked.”

Parris is an MRI technician at St. Vincent Hospital, and this was her first apartment. She said luckily she bought renter’s insurance the day she moved in, but it can’t replace her baby memorabilia and high school diploma.

“There are a lot of memories that can’t be given back to me,” Parris said.

Although there were firewalls between individual apartments, there were no firewalls in the attic, Gauthier said. That allowed the fire to spread as firefighters raced to stay ahead of the flames.

Pieces of the ceiling kept falling, forcing firefighters to attack the flames from above, Gauthier said.

Loose gravel in the water pipes clogged some hose lines, Gauthier said.

The complex, built by Buckingham Companies, opened in July 2001. Apartments were renting for $725 to $1,160. Gauthier said the fire caused about $1.5 million in damages, but the building was not a total loss. He said it will be rebuilt with a new roof, drywall and carpeting.

The management at the apartment complex has provided furnished apartments for the residents of building 1880. The Red Cross is supplying the residents with basic needs, such as toiletries. The rental office at the Reserve is accepting donations. Gauthier said eight out of 14 units had renter’s insurance.

The Worth Division of Boone County Fire, Center Township Fire Department, Washington Township Fire Department, Pike Township Fire Department and Carmel Fire Department assisted Zionsville. The Zionsville Police Department, Boone County Police Department and Boone County EMS were also on the scene.

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