- Associated Press - Friday, December 23, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A final report from the Nebraska Fire Marshal’s Office says the Metropolitan Utilities District improperly marked a natural gas line that caused an explosion and massive fire that destroyed a downtown Omaha building.

The natural gas line in front of M’s Pub in the Old Market area was struck by workers.

The report on the January fire says the utility workers couldn’t identify the gas valve that would’ve stopped the flow of natural gas when they arrived at the scene of the fire. According to the report, the utility also relied on a mapping system that was inadequate and contributed to its inability to promptly respond to the fire.

“They were so convinced that they fixated on stopping the flow of gas to that main,” the report says of the 98-minute interval needed to stanch the gas flow. “It is my opinion that proper mapping and communication could have shortened the time interval for firefighters to begin suppression,” a Fire Marshal’s Office investigator said in the report.

The utility disputes the report’s findings, and maintains that its procedures leading up to the day of the fire and response on the day of the fire were proper. MUD also argues the gas line was “clearly marked.”

MUD officials said they expect to be sued over the fire, and through litigation, “discovery of the true facts associated with the fire will become known.”


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