Update: No injuries or cause known of massive Omaha industrial and chemical fire
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Omaha Fire Department briefed reporters early Tuesday morning about a massive industrial and chemical fire south of downtown Omaha.
Officials said Tuesday morning there is no threat to the public concerning smoke from the fire.
Omaha Public Works says materials from the fire entered the city’s wastewater collection and treatment system, but drinking water is not impacted.
According to public works, Nox-Crete filed a Notification of Environmental Concern report with the Nebraska Department of the Environment and Energy in regards to a hazardous material spill related to the fire.
Public Works says the area uses a combined sewer system. Any materials that may have entered the water system go to the city’s Missouri River Water Resource Recovery Facility. There it receives full water treatment before being put back into the Missouri River.
Crews at the facility are currently monitoring the flows for anything of concern. At this time, no concerning odors or discolorization of flows have been observed by workers.
Tuesday morning crews at the facility did observe a visible sheen in the flow, which could indicate oil in the water flow, but Public Works says nothing has been observed that would be harmful to human health or the environment.
According to Public Works, drinking water is not impacted by the fire. M.U.D. provides Omaha’s drinking water. Water is sourced from the Missouri River near Florence from wells along the Platte River in Sarpy County. Water is then treated to drinking standards.
As crews worked on hotspots at Nox-Crete, Inc., the fire department revealed that firefighters had difficulty accessing the site due to railroad tracks. They were only able to attack the fire from one side initially.
No one was reported to be inside the building. No injuries were reported.
A community center was opened for those who evacuated the area. Thirteen people showed up there including three families. Two other families were put up in hotels.
While there was nothing known to be suspicious Tuesday morning, fire investigators had yet to know how the fire started. The owner showed up at the scene and was cooperative.
According to its website, Nox-Crete, Inc. manufactures chemical solutions to concrete problems. Its product line includes liquid floor hardeners, joint fillers, curing and sealing compounds, and water repellants.
The thick black smoke from the three-alarm fire that broke out at about 7 p.m. in an industrial building near 20th Street and Woolworth Avenue was visible all around the Omaha-metro on Monday night. Explosions were later heard and persisted every few minutes for a time as propane tanks and other chemical containers caught fire in the building.
The fire also prompted officials to recommend that residents in the immediate area evacuate. An evacuation site was later set up at the Columbus Community Center, located at 1523 S. 24th St., where Red Cross was on hand to assist.
The investigation into the fire remains ongoing, but the OFD report also noted that anyone with information about potential arson should call its hotline at 402-444-FIRE; or call Crime Stoppers at 402-444-STOP.
Fire officials said Monday night that crews were expected to fight the fire all night long, hoping that there might also be rain to help extinguish the flames.
MUD crews were also assisting as were Union Pacific and Burlington Northern, according to the OFD report. OPPD was also on-site as there were high-voltage transmission lines at the scene, the report states.
The investigation into the fire remains ongoing, but the OFD report also noted that anyone with information about potential arson should call its hotline at 402-444-FIRE; or call Crimestoppers at 402-444-STOP.
The OFD report states that the structure is valued at $456,200; that doesn’t include the contents, the value of which has not yet been determined.
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