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Grant Fire


November 5, 1973

Smoke reported; initial dispatches
picture by Robert E. Lowe

The fire that started at the Grant Building on East Washington Street was one of the largest and costliest fires in terms of property damage ever fought by the Indianapolis Fire Department. In all, the fire spread to 15 buildings and caused millions of dollars worth of damages.

Despite the immense scope of the fire in a heavily populated downtown area, there were no serious injuries. The Grant Building was unoccupied at the time and was scheduled for demolition. It is believed that propane tanks located on the fourth floor which were supposed to be used in the planned razing of the building were the source of the fire.

The blaze quickly spread from the Grant Building to the nearby Thomas Building and destroyed it as well. There was serious damage to the Merchants National Bank Building, Kirk Furniture, Washington Tower Apartments, and Richmond Brothers before the fire was brought under control.

The Indianapolis Firefighters Museum collection was made possible by a partnership of the Indianapolis Firefighters Museum, the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library, and IUPUI University Library and generous funding from the Central Indiana Community Foundation.

Grant Dispatch Timeline
Smoke reported; initial dispatches
Second alarm
Fifth floor of the Thomas building reported on fire
Third alarm
Chauffeur reports man trapped on 8th floor of Thomas building
Fire hits top of Jefferson Life building
Report from spotter on the 25th floor of the City County building
Check the parking garage south of Merchants building
Washington Hotel needs some attention badly
Report of smoke inhalation injury
Report of cylanders of compressed gas in the Sipe Jewelry Co.
Positioning firefighters at the Washington Hotel
Advise chief that volunteer apparatus is available at some stations
Report from helicopter that the Thomas building is engulfed in flames
Request for hose on top of parking garage
Dispatch to garage fire on New Jersey
Chief Mitney in helicopter requests more lines at Merchant Bank
Mr. Sipe inquires about gas cylinders
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