INDIANAPOLIS — An apartment fire that displaced 20 people Wednesday morning on the city's north side was caused by Christmas lights that were coiled and left on overnight, according to the Indianapolis Fire Department.
Firefighters were dispatched before 5 a.m. to the 2200 block of Rippling Way North, just north of West 86th Street, at The Spring Luxury Apartments, IFD Battalion Chief Rita Reith said in a news release.
Fire was showing on the side wall in the back of the apartments when firefighters arrived, and the blaze was under control by 6:15 a.m. No injuries were reported.
Investigators determined the fire originated in a second floor apartment where Christmas lights on the balcony were left on when residents went to bed, Reith said.
"They were awakened and alerted to the fire by heavy smoke filling the apartment with a glow of fire up at the ceiling level near the patio door," Reith said. "Further investigation found fire on the balcony — both up high and down low. The occupants tried to throw water on it for extinguishment to no avail. They evacuated and alerted other occupants in the building."
Reith said investigators found that excess Christmas lights were coiled, which allowed heat to build up inside the light strings and start the fire. Wet, snowy conditions also contributed to to the fire.
"IFD would like to remind everyone to always unplug Christmas lights, trees, space heaters etc. before going to bed," Reith said. "Always follow manufacturer's instructions and do not string more than two or three of the same kind or size of light strand together. It is recommended to always plug an electrical cord directly into the wall outlet. Should you use and extension cord, make sure you use the appropriate size for the wattage and that the cord is not frayed or cut."
Damage from the fire is estimated at $300,000. IFD Victims Assistance and the Red Cross are working to find shelter for displaced residents.