PLAINFIELD, Ind. — The Walmart Distribution Center that caught fire on Wednesday was opened in 2014. It is not owned by Walmart, but rather it is leased from Duke Realty.
The building was doing little to provide revenue for Hendricks County because Walmart was given a tax break to move into the area worth roughly $53 million for 10 years. For 2022, that’s $15 million alone.
Walmart and the owners of the building still pay property taxes, but since the building is in a TIF district that money only stays in the immediate area for infrastructure investments. That means the county does not see a dime of that money.
Firefighters are still working to put the fire out today as it still smolders in many inward area of the million square foot building. Firefighters from several departments around central Indiana have been working in shifts to keep the smoldering building under control.
They have been relying on help from the community to provide food, water, and other basic supplies so that can keep going. Volunteers and rapid relief teams have set up stations for firefighters to get something to eat and drink.
“We can’t leave,” said Battalion Chief Jerry Bessler with the Washington Township-Avon Fire Department. “We can’t run out to McDonald’s and grab something real quick. There’s nowhere for us to go and we don’t carry that stuff on our apparatus. So for us to be able to have some places like this that are willing to bring this to us and help keep us supported, it’s amazing.”
All of the 1,000 employees made it out of the building safe and were allowed to come back to the building late Thursday afternoon to retrieve their parked cars and any other personal belongings that survived the fire.
They had just had an emergency training drill a few days before the fire.
“We thought it was an odd training until we got out and saw the black smoke coming out from the roof,” said Mario Romero.
Air quality alerts are in effect for Hendricks, Boone, Hamilton, and Marion Counties as particles from the smoke plume are now circling in the air throughout central Indiana.
Once all the hotspots are out, fire investigators with the Plainfield fire department, the ATF, and state fire marshal’s office will start looking around the building to figure out how the fire started.