Extensive summary of major fire.
The Cassgram reports about 60 firefighters and the biggest firefighting equipment in the immediate area fought the blaze at 401 Main and two adjoining business locations in Plattsmouth. The fire was called in at 11:45pm. Water hoses ran through the day on Friday and some flare-ups were extinguished as late as Saturday afternoon. “And we can’t say it’s over yet,” said Plattsmouth Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mike Wilson. Structural concerns are in the “high category” with wall and debris shifting.
There were some firefighters that were brushed by a collapsing wall. Slips and falls on the quickly forming ice were a problem. But no one suffered injuries that required transport to the hospital.
Adding to the Friday Cassgram report, here is a more detailed recap of the fire events, according to Wilson:
An employee of Quart House Pub and patrons in the bar smelled smoke. The fire was first noticed in a cabinet area below the cash register on the main floor. There is a basement. Police officers arrived after the 911 call and radioed the report of smoke in the building. Using a fire extinguisher, Assistant Fire Chief Brian Wuelling, the first PVFD member on scene, was able to knock down some of the flames but couldn’t get to them all because of limited access and intensifying smoke on the main floor. The lone occupant at home in an upstairs apartment was evacuated.
The Plattsmouth department took an offensive approach and firefighters entered 15 to 20 feet into the building but it was not long before it became too dangerous and the fire battle became an exterior fight only. Debris was falling. The roof eventually collapsed.
An immediate dual response page had been made to the Murray fire department and a page went out to Offutt Air Force Base for mutual aid too before PVFD arrived on scene. The magnitude of the fire became evident upon Wilson’s arrival and aerial trucks and personnel from Bellevue, La Vista, Louisville and Ralston were called to assist.
The chief hasn’t calculated the water usage yet but estimates that at times 2500 gallons per minute were being pumped. The city was monitoring the water supply and the supply was able to keep up with demand.
Embers were flying in the air with a southeast breeze at about 10 mph during the night which had firemen watching the situation on other roofs across the street. The winds gusted higher later in the morning Friday after the bulk of the fire was extinguished.
The fire was confined for a time to the main floor of the Quart House Pub but once it got into the wood framing on the second floor it spread quickly westward to the adjoining Cass Family Medicine clinic and then Plattsmouth Chiropractic Center. Damage to Main Street Jewelers/ Diamond Floral, which has a common wall with the chiropractic center, was mainly limited to smoke and some water damage on the main floor and a lot of water in the basement. (Main Street Jewelers will move to a temporary location on North 5th Street before a permanent move to the Dovey Building; Plattsmouth Chiropractic Center and Cass Family Medicine are still researching new locations in town. We’ll have more on the business impact tomorrow in Cassgram.)
A Nebraska City Fire Department aerial truck was brought in to relieve local crews on Friday and shifts rotated from the Nebraska City, Avoca, Union, Nehawka and Louisville fire departments to keep water on the hotspots and a watch over the situation.
The “command terminated” radio message was made before noon Saturday, about 36 hours after the fire started.
“It was an outstanding job by all departments, and that certainly includes mine as well,” said Wilson.
The firefighters will have many people to thank for their assistance when time permits and a list is compiled. City government officials provided peripheral assistance and many business owners helped by opening their doors. For example, River House Cafe across the street provided coffee and a warm ‘rehab’ location for the firemen.
It is not known when investigators from the state fire marshal’s office and private insurance agencies will be able to examine the building to pinpoint the exact origin and cause. Because of the dangers that exist, the entry will be “well thought out,” said Wilson.
---The city parking lot is open but there is no traffic allowed in the alley and a fenced-off perimeter is set up around the building on 4th Street and Main Street. No one is allowed close to building. Highway 34 traffic is re-routed onto 1st Avenue. With the pedestrian route blocked on 4th Street, Quart House Pub and Jeff Henry Chevrolet are providing passenger shuttles between the city parking lot and the courthouse/downtown business area starting at 7:30am and again at 5pm on weekdays.
---Fires have hit Plattsmouth’s downtown hard before. In 1961, a fire destroyed the Riley Hotel, a theater and other businesses on the north side of Main Street between 6th and 7th Streets. A fire gutted the Schreiner Drug building in the 500 block on the south side of Main on New Year’s Eve of 1996.