Massive fire rips through Evansville warehouse

Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 5:18 AM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Firefighters were called to a massive warehouse fire on North Morton Avenue around 4:30 Monday morning and they are still out there now.

Officials with the Indiana Department of Transportation say Westbound Lloyd Expressway near US 41 was closed due to the fire.

That road is now back open.

According to a social media post, other roads in the area could still be closed.

EFD Chief Mike Larson says the warehouse had storage items inside of it. Fire officials are investigating the cause of the fire along with the Indiana Fire Marshall.

Chief Larson also says no injuries have been reported. He says three other buildings, besides the warehouse were impacted by the fire.

He says the wind made the fire more challenging to fight, and they expect to be on scene for several more hours.

EPD is asking for the public if they have any surveillance video around the area of the fire. If so, please e-mail it to Sgt. Hunt with the EPD Adult Investigations Unit at whunt@evansvillepolice.com.

Several businesses had to evacuate Monday morning because of the fire.

According to a press release, 70 to 75 residents of Volunteers of America’s Hope Hall have been displaced due to the damage to their facility. They are now in a shelter, and The American Red Cross is helping.

”We have delivered around 75 cots, blankets, and what we call comfort kits. Which have things like toiletries; soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, things like that those residents might need,” said Red Cross Southwest Indiana Executive Director Beth Sweeney. “So we’ve just dropped all of those supplies off so that they will have a place to lay their head tonight when they are staying at that shelter.”

Viewers reported seeing the smoke from the fire from several miles away.

Memorial’s JV Football team had to move their game to Castle Monday night, and the varsity team practiced inside because of the smoke.

Real Estate Broker Philip Hooper shared some history of the building. He calls it a tragic loss for Evansville’s industrial and architectural history.

He says in 1902, William H. McCurdy founded the Hercules Buggy Company in Evansville, with a state of the art manufacturing facility.

They manufactured carriages until the 1920s, as well as automobile bodies, gasoline engines used for farm machinery, and for a while refrigerators and even furniture and paints.

Hooper says high volumes of buggy and engine sales in the Sears catalogue forged deep relationships between McCurdy and Sears, Roebuck and Co. in the early 20th century. It is largely due to those business contacts that Evansville was the location of the first Sears department store at 4th and Sycamore.

The building changed hands several times, even producing parts for P-47′s to fight in World War II.

“This is a terrible tragedy to have Evansville lose our first major industrial factory that it ever had,” said Mark Browning, who witnessed the fire from his plane.

There had been talk in 2020 about redeveloping the old Hercules plant into a multi-use building with luxury apartments and office space.

Here’s live coverage from 10 p.m. Monday:

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Here’s live team coverage from 6 p.m.:

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Here’s live coverage from 5 p.m., including a live interview with Division Fire Chief Mike Larson:

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Here is live coverage from 4:30 p.m.

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Here is live coverage from 4 p.m.

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Here is live coverage from noon.

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You can watch our coverage from earlier this morning below:

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