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Indianapolis Athletic Club Fire

Two Indianapolis firefighters and an elderly male guest died in an early morning fire in the Indianapolis Athletic Club. This fire received widespread media coverage since it occurred while the building housed the jury hearing testimony in heavyweight boxer Michael G. Tyson’s rape trial. The true significance of this incident is not the involvement of the Tyson jury - their presence was merely coincidental -but why it turned so tragic. The fire originated in the third floor bar due to an electrical malfunction in or near a refrigerator. A detailed chronology of the incident and the plan of the floor of origin are presented in Appendices A and B. Indianapolis fire communications received a 911 call at 12:06 a.m., February 5,1992 reporting an odor of smoke in the lobby of the Indianapolis Athletic Club, a nine-story mixed use building. Within two minutes a first alarm assignment of four engine companies, two truck companies, and two chief officers was dispatched to the incident. A little more than a minute and a half later, the first company arrived on the scene and reported “nothing showing.” What looked routine upon arrival would become tragic less than 20 minutes later when fire erupted from a concealed space on the third floor, resulting in a flash fire which claimed the lives of Corporal Ellwood Gelenius and Private John Lorenzano

   
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