‘Extremely frustrating’: OFD battles another major fire in vacant Midtown Omaha building

6 News WOWT Daybreak at 6
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 3:32 AM CDT|Updated: 7 hours ago
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Omaha Fire Department battled a fire that completely engulfed a Midtown building early Monday morning.

Crews responded to the “known vacant” building at 25th Avenue and Jones Street around 2:30 a.m.

“We had heavy fire coming from the entire top level, and then we had a lot of fire on the east side from the lower level, so it was a very involved fire upon our arrival,” OFD Battalion Chief Chad Kinney told 6 News.

Despite the building being vacant and fenced off, firefighters helped one man escape the fire and transported him to a local hospital for evaluation.

Three engines, two trucks, and two fire chiefs responded to the scene, according to the OFD report.

“When we arrived, our safety chief was doing his walk around, he had a male party yell at him from the building [that] he was in there, so we had crews worked to get around this fence to go assist him in getting out, so the male party was able to get out,” Kinney added.

According to the OFD report, it took about an hour for crews to get the Monday morning blaze under control.

The building was previously an apartment complex and was condemned in January 2022, after a city inspection found the conditions to be unlivable. About two dozen tenants were displaced at the time.

A previous fire in June of 2021 forced more than 40 residents out. And in May 2022, after it was vacant, the building was heavily damaged by another fire.

“With it being a vacant building, it was a defensive operation from the start,” Kinney added.” We’re not going to go into this building for any reason afterward because it’s burned before, we’ve had fires here before and the structural integrity of the building is already compromised.”

Battalion Chief Kinney expressed concern about vacant buildings like these.

“We always want to put life safety first, and when we’re in a situation like — this where it’s a vacant building — we need to do everything we can to get people out. But a building like this — we can’t go inside. This building could collapse at any moment, so it limits us and restricts us in how we can do our job. So it’s extremely frustrating having to deal with all these vacant buildings.”

The cause of Monday’s fire is under investigation.

The OFD report estimated the building’s value at $664,100.

Reporter Marlo Lundak, Producer Chris Dachille, and Executive Producer Katherine Wiley contributed to this story.