Fire at Chemical Facility in Omaha Forces Residents to Evacuate

The fire was reported at 7 P.M. on May 30

Thousands of residents in the Omaha area have been left without power after a fire broke out at a chemical facility near the city’s downtown.

The Nox Crete facility, which began to burn on the evening of May 30, produces liquid floor hardeners, joint fillers, curing and sealing compounds and water repellents.

Thick black smoke surrounded the structure and was visible for miles. Hundred of onlookers gathered in the area to observe the blaze.

Fire Battalion Chief Scott Fitzpatrick told a local news station that the first call was received around 7 P.M.

The blaze was much bigger than firefighters had anticipated. At one point, the first responders “pulled back knowing there were chemicals and propane bottles on site,” per CBS News.

Explosions could be heard inside the building, which partially collapsed during the fire. Fitzpatrick said projectiles were launched 50 feet into the air as a result of the explosion 

At the fire’s onset, area residents were told to shelter in place. Residents in the 13th and 20th and Leavenworth to Martha area were advised to evacuate their homes at roughly 9 P.M. Anyone who could not evacuate was told to stay inside with their doors and windows closed.

The fire burned throughout the night. At 6 A.M. on May 31, two units of the Omaha Fire Department remained on-site and residents were allowed to return to their homes.

More than 2,300 people who lost power had their electricity restored overnight.

“It was a long night,” Fitzpatrick said, per the Lincoln Journal Star. “We haven’t had any injuries to civilians or firefighters.”

Fitzpatrick said that crews had initially been attempting to put out the first from the inside. However, when the fire broke through the structure’s roof, it became unstable and forced firefighters to adopt a new approach.

The chemical facility has been declared a total loss. The Journal Star reports the building had a value of $456,200.

Pottawattamie County Emergency Management was advised that the smoke is not toxic.

A 9:45 A.M., the Douglas County Health Department said one person who had been exposed to the smoke reported experiencing dizziness and had contacted the poison center, per KETV.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

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