Firefighters who inadvertently left food cooking on the stove caused the fire that left their northwest Omaha fire station with extensive damage.
It will take at least three weeks to repair the damage caused by the Sunday morning fire at Station 43, near 103rd and Fort Streets, officials said Monday.
The fire gutted the station’s kitchen and living areas.
“It just goes to show that it can happen to anybody,” said Battalion Chief Scott Fitzpatrick. “Don’t get in a rush to leave the house.”
Cooking is the most common cause of fires in both residential and nonresidential buildings in the U.S., according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
The fire occurred around 10 a.m. Sunday. A battalion chief working in his office in the building smelled smoke and called it in, Fitzpatrick said. The building’s smoke detectors also went off, he said.
The station’s firefighters had been sent out at 9:40 a.m. to help someone who had fallen. Firefighters from two other stations responded to the call, along with those who had just left Station 43, and together they extinguished the blaze in about 15 minutes.
Fitzpatrick said it’s too early to say who was responsible for leaving the stove on or how much repairs will cost. Personnel and equipment were moved to other stations in the area.
“In the next few days, we will be moving personnel from Station 43 and Battalion 4 into the northwest police precinct, which is right nearby,” Fitzpatrick said. The goal, he said, is for firefighters to be back in the station within three to four weeks: “They will have temporary quarters much like when we are remodeling a station.”
The work at Station 43, which opened in 1990, will include the addition of a sprinkler system and a fire-suppression system over the stove. Those fire defenses are being added at all of the city’s 24 fire stations as they come up for renovation, Fitzpatrick said.
Fire Department officials researched the last time an Omaha fire station burned and found records of a fire in 1917, Fitzpatrick said. “Our headquarters, now occupied by the Upstream Brewery near 11th and Jackson (Streets), caught fire when the company was called out and they left food cooking on the stove.
“We should be good for another 100 years.”