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Walmart blames dozens of Indiana fire departments in handling of warehouse fire, making damage worse

The tort claim is for property loss and damages from the March 16 warehouse fire.

PLAINFIELD, Ind. — Walmart has filed notice it plans to pursue a tort claim against the Plainfield Fire Territory and dozens of other Indiana fire departments for the handling of the Plainfield fulfillment center warehouse fire in March.

The tort claim is for property loss and damages, and it even notes the amount is currently known to exceed the $5,000,000 statutory limit of the Indiana Tort Claims Act. 

The claim alleges, "fire suppression activities and/or command staff functions may have caused, contributed to and/or exacerbated the extent of property loss and damages."

NOTE: The above video is from a previous report on the investigation into the Walmart distribution center fire.

When firefighters were called to the warehouse just before noon, March 16, they began fighting the fire.

Plainfield Fire Chief Brent Anderson said in March that the fire suppression system at the facility was working correctly at the time firefighters arrived. At some point, a decision was made by firefighters to turn off the "riser" to the affected area. The riser is a component of the fire suppression system that supplies water to the sprinklers in different areas.

RELATED: EPA report found higher levels of carcinogens temporarily after Plainfield fire

The overall system was kept on, but the sprinkler system in the area where the fire began was turned off. Anderson said additional details on fire response strategies and techniques will be discussed at a later date, in terms of what did or did not happen.

Part of the tort claim blames the "deactivating or disabling the fire suppression system, risers and/or pumps during fire response activities, and/or opening the facility doors, which allowed additional oxygen to enter the premises before the fire was extinguished. After these activities occurred, the fire at the premises grew and spread quickly.”

None of the 1,000 employees or 350 firefighters were injured in the fire.

13News reached out to Walmart about the tort claim and received the following response:

“We are taking steps as required under Indiana Law to preserve our rights during this ongoing investigation.” - Randy Hargrove, Senior Director, National Media Relations

Plainfield issued the following statement to 13News in response to the tort claim:

The Town of Plainfield is proud of the heroic response by the Plainfield Fire Territory and the supporting services from all over central Indiana who risked their personal safety to protect lives. The safety and security of life is always the Plainfield Fire Territory’s highest priority. The Town of Plainfield and the Plainfield Fire Territory remains committed to providing fire and emergency medical services to the residents and visitors of Plainfield.

RELATED: ATF finishes work at site of Plainfield Walmart fulfillment center fire

In addition to Plainfield Fire Territory, other agencies and departments listed in the claim are:

  • Amo Fire Department
  • Bargersville Fire Department
  • Brownsburg Fire Territory
  • Carmel Fire Department
  • Coatesville Fire Department
  • Consolidated Indianapolis and Marion County
  • Danville Fire Department
  • Decatur Township
  • Greencastle Fire Department
  • Greenwood Fire Department
  • Hendricks County Fire Buffs
  • Indiana State Fire Marshal
  • Indianapolis Airport Fire Department
  • Indianapolis Fire Department
  • Jamestown Fire Department
  • Lebanon Fire Department
  • Lizton Union Township Fire Department
  • Madison Township Fire Department (not Putnam)
  • Martinsville Fire Department
  • Monroe Township Fire Department
  • Mooresville Fire Department
  • North Salem Fire Department
  • Perry Township Fire Department
  • Pike Township Fire Department
  • Pittsboro Fire Department
  • Speedway Fire Department
  • Stilesville Fire Department
  • Washington Township Avon Fire Department
  • Wayne Township
  • Westfield Fire Department
  • White River Township Fire Department
  • Whitestown Fire Department
  • Zionsville Fire Department

You can read the notice of tort claim here:

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