Crews work to determine cause of apartment fire in southern Indiana

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A man installing a HVAC system in the Breakwater Apartments in New Albany started the fire that destroyed the building.

In a report released Thursday by the New Albany Fire Department, officials say they concluded the fire started in Apartment 217 in the ceiling area above the mechanical room on Feb. 24 between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Joe Miller with Del Monde Heating and Air was working to braze a copper line for the heating and air when the insulation around the copper ignited from direct contact with a torch. Miller told officials he tried to put the fire out himself with multiple fire extinguishers for about 45 minutes. 

In another effort to stop the fire, Miller cut a 2-foot-by-2-foot hole to get the insulation out that was on fire. At that point, he believed he had the fire out, according to the report.

Multiple other contractors said they saw smoke at the time, but at no point did any of them notify the fire department. Firefighters were called to the complex early the next morning, Feb. 25. 

The majority of the building had to be demolished as a result of the fire. Residents had yet to move in.

Another occupied apartment building on the property never caught fire.

Below is the full report from the fire department:

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