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Fire causes building collapse in downtown North Vernon

Published: Nov. 21, 2014 at 12:44 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 28, 2014 at 12:44 PM EST
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Crews worked throughout the morning to try to put out the fire. (Source: Ron Buchanan)
Crews worked throughout the morning to try to put out the fire. (Source: Ron Buchanan)
The fire caused heavy damage to several buildings. (Source: Ron Buchanan)
The fire caused heavy damage to several buildings. (Source: Ron Buchanan)
Air 3 approaches a fire in North Vernon, IN. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Air 3 approaches a fire in North Vernon, IN. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Ice covered much of downtown North Vernon as water from fire hoses froze in the frigid air....
Ice covered much of downtown North Vernon as water from fire hoses froze in the frigid air. (Source: Cedra Mayfield, WAVE 3 News)

NORTH VERNON, IN (WAVE) - A large apartment fire broke out in downtown North Vernon on Friday morning, causing at least one building to collapse and severely damaging several others. Four firefighters were injured in the collapse, and at least four families were left homeless.

Bricks and debris litter the streets where Hatton's Carpet Store once stood. A row of historic buildings is hollowed out and badly charred. Much of the rest of downtown is covered in ice as the spray from fire hoses freezes in the frigid air.

[GALLERY: Photos from a large fire in North Vernon, Indiana]

Jennings County dispatch issued an alert at 6:45 a.m. saying Highway 50 eastbound was closed at State Road 3 and 7 due to a fire. Officials have asked people to avoid the area.

According to North Vernon Fire Chief Rick Magill, about 50 firefighters from eight-to-10 departments battled the fire, which started in a basement apartment and spread to the carpet store, a law office, a beauty shop, and upper apartments.

The four injured firefighters were taken to a hospital. They are expected to be all right. 

The Red Cross says it has a disaster action team at the scene providing relief to responders. 

This is the second time this month the building has caught fire. WTHR-TV, the NBC affiliate in Indianapolis, reports that 30 people were forced out their homes after a fire on Nov. 5. No one was injured in that fire.

The state fire marshal is on the scene investigating.

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