EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Evansville Fire Department Division Chief Mike Larson says the ATF is offering a $5,000 award for information leading to the arrest of anyone involved in starting the fire on Morton Avenue last week. Despite the reward being offered, Division Chief Larson said at this time it is not a criminal investigation.
Since the fire on Morton Avenue and East Franklin Street last Monday, several agencies have been brought onto the investigation into what caused the blaze – including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Authorities say that if they are able to determine a cause, it could take weeks.
Mike Larson also said the warehouse was empty at the time of the fire.
Debris from what’s left of the warehouse was still being removed earlier today, while other remains stay standing as firefighters work to get all hot spots put out.
“Some of those hot spots, they got in a little closer, and those temperatures are still well above 300 degrees. It’s still pretty warm in those spots,” Larson explained. He says the ATF is offering the reward, but it doesn’t mean criminal activity was involved. Instead, it’s offered to eliminate possibilities.
“That’s why this $5,000 reward has been offered just in case there’s something going on and someone has information,” said Division Chief Larson. He says the fire engulfed an area about 420,000 square feet with about a million square feet of warehouse space.
As investigators find a cause, businesses like Equipment Depot have started returning to normal. General Manager Jason Rutledge, who is also a former Mount Vernon city firefighter, says their roof caught fire twice during the warehouse fire, but they were back open the day after, and thankful to be back open.
“Just so graetful that they kept our building safe, our neighbors Evansville Garage Doors safe, that was just a phenomenal effort to keep our building being more impacted than what it really was,” he said.
Larson expects the fire may smolder several more days, so it will probably be another week before crews can say it is officially out.
(This story was originally published on October 24, 2022)