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Alert for officers' safety was in effect for Bargersville home destroyed in fire

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Posted at 1:30 PM, Aug 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-18 18:35:35-04

BARGERSVILLE — The Bargersville home destroyed in a fire Wednesday was under an alert indicating a potential threat to police officers' safety before the blaze was first reported, the spokesman for the town's fire department says.

Deputy Fire Chief Michael Pruitt said in an email Thursday that the status, referred to as an "officer safety alert," was placed on the building because of previous calls at the address involving police. The officer safety alert tells dispatch to send two officers with every call to the address.

Pruitt told WRTV he was unsure how long the status had been in effect but confirmed it was before officials were dispatched to the fire.

Bargersville Police Officer Jeremy Roll tells WRTV police have been to the home, located in the 6600 block of Travis Road, "on numerous occasions." Roll says the alert was placed "due to the mental health and state of mind of the resident" and that police seized guns twice from the home in January and July of 2022.

Pruitt said Bargersville fire investigators and assisting agencies had completed their work at the scene but were unable to determine what caused the blaze.

"The cause will remain undetermined until investigators have the opportunity to speak with the homeowner who remains in critical condition at Eskenazi," Pruitt wrote.

The Bargersville Fire Department was assisted in its investigation by the Indiana State Fire Marshal's Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, IMPD's arson unit and the White River Township Fire Department.

Firefighters were dispatched about 4:30 p.m. to the home, which is near State Road 37 and County Road 700 North. When crews arrived, they saw heavy black smoke and encountered "multiple explosions," according to a Wednesday Facebook post by the fire department.

Pruitt said firefighters had to lay out about 3,000 feet of supply hose since the home was almost a half-mile from a road. Crews brought the blaze under control in about 45 minutes.

The person injured in the fire is believed to be the homeowner, Pruitt said, though it's not clear how he was injured. He was transported to Eskenazi Hospital in critical condition, according to the post.

Other potential occupants were all accounted for. No firefighters were inujured.

WRTV has attempted to confirm the nature of previous calls to the home with the Bargersville Police Department. Johnson County Sheriff Duane Burguess was unavailable for comment.

The fire department said the home was valued at about $800,000.

The address is listed online as belonging to Chahal Kennels. A Facebook page for the kennel describes it as "a responsible guard dog breeder" with the goal "to achieve and present to you by selective breeding a superior in size and quality puppies."

WRTV Real-Time Editor Michelle Kaufman contributed to this report.