Update: 3-Alarm Fire Rips Through Omaha Building

By: WOWT Email
By: WOWT Email

After a three alarm fire at the old Keystone Pharmacy building at 73rd and Maple, fire investigator believe the building is a total loss.

Just after 11 p.m. Sunday night, crews responded to a fire alarm in the building. By the time they arrived, they found heavy smoke and flames coming from the structure.

Investigators believe the loss of the building and contents would be valued at just under $1M.

As crews worked to extinguish the flames, they were pulled back to defensive positions when the roof and walls began to collapse. OFD chief Bernard Kanger says there was a lot of material inside the building for the fire to go through, and the entire structure is considered a total loss.

"Due to the extensive nature of the fire and the roof failure, the roof collapse, a cause will be very difficult to determine for quite some time," Kanger says.

A nearby apartment building was evacuated for a time as crews worried the fire would spread. The Red Cross and Salvation Army were called in to provide support for firefighters throughout the night.

The building is registered as Mary's Bookshop, but a sign out front says it was a thrift shop as well.

Fire crews remained on the scene for hours after the blaze was contained. The structure was unstable and there was concern over whether the walls would hold up.

Justin Haden had no idea the furniture store that just hired him had burned. He arrived to work only to see the aftermath.

“A lot of people like this store. It’s not the big fancy we got this, we got that. You come in and it’s real homey-like, you know? I'll find another job. I always find a job man there’s always a job out there. You just gotta look. It’s not a big deal.”

For Susan Ocken the loss of the building was more sentimental. She remembers when the old building was the home of Keystone Pharmacy.

“It was a really nice place,” she said. “You go in and they say, ‘Hi, how you doing?’ and you get a little basket, you get your things like Christmas, Easter, whatever. They have some things there I can get my family.”

The fire will take time to investigate. Authorities have to first make sure the scene is safe. They might have to bring in heavy equipment to tear everything down before sifting through the debris.

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