"It's hard to really imagine unless you can see it - how damaging this is to us...Watching those flames, it's just tearing me up to know that there's a lot of things in there that are going to be lost. We're going to be displaced for quite awhile..."I've never seen anything like this. A tornado destroyed a building once but nothing like this."
- LPS Superintendent Dr. Steve Joel
Lincoln Public Schools officials are scrambling to find spots to put 250 workers who lost their workspace in a fire at the district headquarters.
LPS Superintendent Dr. Steve Joel said a district administrator was working in the building around 11:00 p.m. Monday and smelled smoke. The administrator was able to get out of the building safely.
Assistant Fire Chief Pat Borer said more than 70 firefighters responded and encountered several challenges while battling the fire. For a time, lightning from a passing thunderstorm kept fire crews from using their aerial ladders. Wind also pushed the fire further into the building. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries.
"One of them was a pulled muscle - working over here on the west side and south side of the building it's a slope and with the rain and the water we've had some guys fall and we've had some guys slip down and that kind of stuff," said Borer. "One of them was an injury due to glass so he got cut and those are the two injuries so far."
School is out for the summer,but the administrative work continues. Associate Superintendent Marilyn Moore said the electronic data is backed up at North Star High School, but the fire destroyed the district's servers.
"I've never seen anything like this," said Joel. "A tornado destroyed a building once but nothing like this. There's been a lot of people who've worked in this building for a lot of years and it's going to be difficult. We're going to be grieving but we'll grieve and figure out what we need to do to get back into full operation."
Lincoln Public Schools is looking at 10 temporary locations to move in. One location is the city-owned Experian Building located on West Bond Street near Lincoln Municipal Airport. There is about 30,000 square feet of vacant space.
O Street was closed from 56th-66th Street but re-opened Tuesday at 2:00 p.m.
Captain Peterson said they arrested two men for driving over fire hoses and driving around police cars blocking the roadway.
Joseph's College of Beauty at 5801 O Street is closed Tuesday because there is no access to the building.