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News Releases from Region 05

U.S. EPA responds to Indianapolis Barn Fire

Contact Information: 
Francisco Arcaute (arcaute.francisco@epa.gov)
312-886-7613, 312-898-2042

For Immediate Release No. 15-OPA161

(Chicago, Oct. 23) On Oct. 20, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Marion County Public Health Department responded to a barn fire on a vacant farm at 5453 Seerley Road, Indianapolis, where five 35 gallon drums of metal potassium were discovered in an area near the barn.

The drums were moved from the barn following a fire last May and wrapped in plastic. The drums show signs of metal flaking, rust, rupture and bulging. When metal potassium comes in contact with water, a violent reaction producing hydrogen gas is possible. The gas can catch fire.

When EPA responders arrived at the scene, they conducted air monitoring in a residential neighborhood downwind of the fire to test for soot particles and chemicals including volatile organic compounds, hydrogen sulfide and hydrogen cyanide. During the time that EPA officials were monitoring, no chemicals were detected and soot levels were within air quality standards.

EPA officials also inspected Little Seerley Creek and did not see any sign that water used to fight the fire had entered the creek.

EPA will continue to monitor the air and water from fire suppression. In addition, EPA emergency personnel have secured the site to prevent unauthorized access and established a technical workgroup to determine the best way to stabilize, safely remove and dispose of the containers.

The Marion County Public Health Department is working closely with the EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to monitor any potential public health threat and to share information with nearby residents about this coordinated response effort.