Travis Road fire investigation concludes, cause undetermined

Investigation into an August Bargersville residence fire has concluded, but the cause is undetermined.

First responders were called to a home on the 6600 block of Travis Road around 4:34 p.m. Aug. 17 to investigate reports of smoke. Shortly after the call first came in, it was updated to a residence fire. Upon arrival, crews reported seeing heavy black smoke coming from the 6,000-square-foot home, according to the Bargersville Community Fire Department.

While crews were fighting the fire, Bargersville Police found the homeowner in an area behind the residence. He appeared to have sustained injuries from the fire, and was transported to Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis in critical condition, officials said. He was the only home resident on the property during the fire.

The fire spread throughout the home and the garage. The home, valued at approximately $800,000, is a total loss, officials said.

The homeowners also operate Chahal Kennel, a dog breeding business specializing in Dobermans. Dogs were at the property at the time of the fire but they were not directly impacted by the fire, as they are kept in a barn that is several hundred from the home, officials said

The cause of the fire could not be determined by fire investigators initially due to the extremely heavy fire damage to the home. The case stayed open for months until investigators had the chance to speak with the homeowner, said Mike Pruitt, Bargersville’s deputy fire chief. The homeowner was in bad shape after the fire and unable to communicate with investigators for several months.

Some of the circumstances around the house fire gave investigators reason to look closely, Bargersville Police public information officer Jeremy Roll said at the time. One of those factors is that the home was listed for sale for $1.05 million on Aug. 13 and was removed from sale on the day of the fire, according to listing records for the address on The home was also under a safety alert for first responders, which means that when police are called to the home they should bring backup, Roll said.

When the homeowner was able to talk, investigators found out he had few memories from the day of the fire, Pruitt said. Because investigators couldn’t tell how the fire started and the homeowner doesn’t remember, the investigation concluded without no known cause, he said.

“It is not uncommon for large-scale fires to be undetermined,” Pruitt said. “The homeowner was seriously injured and does not remember hardly anything from the events that day and that’s what we had to go with.”

When a fire cause is undetermined, it complicates things for insurance reimbursements and the insurance company has to make their own call, he said.

Bargersville fire investigators worked with White River Township’s investigations department, Indiana State Fire Marshals Office, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s arson team and Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms during the investigation, which concluded last month.