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Crews respond to underground fire in downtown Omaha

Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 8:31 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Omaha fire crews responded to reports of explosions and a fire at 17th and Capitol Avenue in downtown Omaha Monday evening.

Police reported that the fire involved an underground power transformer and that OPPD was headed to the scene. Some traffic signals could have been affected by the situation. If that was the case, people should treat intersections as a 4-way stop.

6 News could see a large plume of smoke coming from that intersection immediately after the initial report. The smoke cleared fairly quickly.

Hotel guests were okay, a little shocked at how quickly things happened here. They say, they felt their rooms shake and saw smoke from the eighth and 15th floors.

The Omaha Fire Dept told 6 News the explosion happened underground near the Double Tree and officials had to put out a fire. Tenants living down Capitol Ave say they felt some sort of shockwave as well.

“We started walking down eight flights of stairs. As we’re doing that, the building was shaking a bit and the lights were flickering on and off,” hotel guest, Andrew Lovato-Needham.

“A little bit, only because we were on the fifteenth floor, so I knew if something happened, we had to get out quick and not use the elevator,” said hotel guest, Lauren Pruitt.

Officials say everyone and their building are okay as of right now. Crews are cleaning the mess and the OPPD and MUD are on the scene.

The Omaha Fire Dept says these types of explosions can sometimes happen on their own and officials are still on scene.

We were dispatched to an explosion. Once we got here, we had appeared to be an underground vault, maybe some transformers that were exploding over in the sidewalk next to the Doubletree. We had smoke and flames coming out of the vault, just kept everybody away until everything was over,

As of right now, the fire is out. We got utilities on scene they’re taking care of it. So at this time yes, fires out, smoke has dissipated, and we’re just getting ready to clean up. I believe OPPD.

No, not at this time we have no idea. It just came in as an explosion. Not sure what happened there.

Sometimes it can, you know, it’s, there’s electrical equipment down there and then gets old or whatever things happen and instances like this happen.

We were going through the hotel, there was no extension into the hotel so everything’s good there.

We’ve contacted made contact with them [OPPD], they’re going to start working on it and take over the scene.

Mickey McLaughlin, OFD Acting Batallion Chief

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