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Firefighters Battle Massive Blaze At Flying J Truck Stop
Updated March 21, 2016 1:03 PM | Filed under: Fire
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - Indianapolis Fire Department investigators are at the Flying J truck stop at Thompson Road and Ind. 37 on the southwest side looking into what caused a three-alarm fire Sunday night.

Crews were dispatched to a Denny's restaurant and Flying J truck stop in the 1700 block of W Thompson Road just after 7:30 p.m. Fire officials on scene pulled a third alarm on this fire, calling in around 150 firefighters from IFD and Decatur Township.

The fire started outside the building, and is believed to have been a grease fire. Investigators are focusing their efforts looking into a grease container that is kept on the outside of the building to hold old grease from the restaurant's kitchen. They are also investigating the possibility of lint from a dryer vent as a possible ignition source.

After seeing the fire, a couple of employees first tried to put it out with a fire extinguisher. When that did not work, they went back into the building to alert everyone inside.

"We were sitting there eating. Everyone was sitting around talking, watching the news and then a guy came out of the kitchen screaming and hollering to get out," recalled one customer. "By the time we got past the cash register, they were saying, 'The building's on fire! The building's on fire!' We went out the front door into the parking lot and you could see smoke already coming through the ceiling. The roof of the building already had smoke coming out."

Thanks to the employees' efforts, all 40 people who were inside got out safely.

There were propane tanks inside the Flying J restaurant, as well as the gas pumps at the truck stop's gas station. While firefighters reported hearing some popping sounds, they did not believe those sounds were the tanks exploding.

As of 9:45 p.m., firefighters' main concern was trying to wrap up their work as quickly as possible because their equipment had effectively trapped a number of truckers, stopping them from getting back on the road.

Damage was estimated at $2 million. The building is considered a complete loss.

The truck stop, where more than 1,000 truckers are estimated to come through every day, is expected to be closed for some time.

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