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Downtown Indianapolis fire affects law firms

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An early morning fire in downtown Indianapolis gave two nearby law firms a scare as flames poured out of the building.

A fire broke out around 3 a.m. at an apartment building under construction just off the canal and bordered by Senate Avenue and Michigan and North Streets. The fire continued to burn into the early afternoon. The blaze sent ash, smoke, and embers into the air, concerning nearby building owners and occupants.

LewisWagner's windows along the side of the building facing the canal broke as a result of the heat from the fire. Partner John Trimble said none of the windows broke inward and there are spider-web-sized cracks in all of those windows. No smoke entered the building through the broken windows. A contractor will board the windows until they can be replaced, he said. LewisWagner is about 150 feet away from the apartment building, which was across the canal, and firefighters used the firm's lot to spray water on the fire.

Schultz and Pogue, which is about 300 feet and across a parking lot from the building, reported no damage to the firm, although the firm has called a fire safety engineer to inspect the building's roof to make sure it doesn't have any damage, said partner Peter Pogue.

When Pogue arrived at the building around 6:30 a.m., the police and fire departments wouldn't let staff in because of safety concerns of the building catching fire from the blowing embers. By 8 a.m., the staff was allowed in, although Pogue said they were told not to come in until noon. Access to the firm is limited because several surrounding streets were closed because of the fire.

Katz & Korin, which is about a block south of the fire, reported no damage but could smell the smoke when the firm's front door would open.

Officials at the Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis, a few blocks from the site, reported that other than traffic problems because of blocked streets, nothing was impacted by the fire.

Trimble learned of the fire after he turned on the news this morning and said he rushed to the firm as quickly as he could and sent e-mails to the firm's attorneys telling them not to come in until later in the morning.

Pogue was notified by a co-owner of his firm's building.

"This is very disappointing," Trimble said, noting the firm feels for the owners who lost their building. "It was a very attractive structure, and we were looking forward to it being completed."

The building, Cosmopolitan on the Canal, was a $33 million apartment project scheduled to begin leasing units in May. Retail space was also part of the project.

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