BLOOMINGTON – A 42-year-old Bloomington man perished in a fire at 2911 South Leonard Springs Road Tuesday night.
The coroner’s preliminary findings said Bobby Coker Jr. died from asphyxia due to smoke inhalation, and that Coker’s death had been ruled accidental.
The fire was reported at 10 p.m. after the police received a call from an individual stating they saw smoke coming from the building. Additional callers from a laundry mat near the apartment building reported they saw smoke and flames coming from the building.
A resident in the building then reported they were attempting to evacuate residents from their apartments.
Firefighters from the Monroe Fire District arrived on the scene to find heavy fire coming from the southeast corner of the apartment complex. Firefighters and law enforcement officers began knocking on doors or forcing entry into apartments to evacuate residents as other firefighters drug hoses up to the second floor and began extinguishing the fire.
As additional firefighters arrived on the scene they assisted with fire suppression and conducted searches of the apartments. Unfortunately, during their search firefighters found one resident deceased in the apartment where the fire started. The name of the victim has not been released.
Additional searches of apartments located several cats and dogs. One cat was given oxygen and appeared to recover. The other animals were later reunited with their owners.
Additional manpower and apparatus from Bloomington City Fire Department were requested to assist. Ladder trucks from both departments were set up at the edges of the fire to provide a defensive stop to the fire that was spreading across the attic and roof.
Firefighters inside the building were pulled out of the apartments while a master stream from the ladder truck was used to suppress a large volume of fire. Firefighters were then able to mark the fire under control and begin salvage and overhaul operations.
Firefighters remained on the scene for several hours making sure all hot spots were extinguished and conducting a fire investigation. The State Fire Marshall’s Office was contacted as required when there is a fatality fire. Once the investigation was completed the Monroe County Coroner completed their investigation and removed the body of the deceased.
The cause of the fire was found to be accidental, from unattended cooking in the kitchen.
Duke Energy and Center Point Gas were contacted to shut off the utilities to the apartment complex for safety concerns, and the local Red Cross was called to assist residents with sheltering and other emergency needs.
One firefighter was transported to the hospital for a minor injury and evaluation. Approximately 3-5 units sustained fire damage and several others sustained smoke and water damage.
Monroe Fire Protection District was assisted on the scene by Bloomington City Fire Department, IU Health Lifeline Ambulance, Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana State Police, Indiana State Fire Marshall’s Office, Monroe County Coroner, Duke Energy, Center Point Gas, and the Red Cross.