Explosive Blaze Challenges Nebraska Firefighters

OMAHA, Neb. --

Ten firefighting agencies were called to a large building fire in the unincorporated town of Nashville, Neb., south of Fort Calhoun around 4 a.m. Thursday.

Flames could be seen from three miles away as firefighters worked to subdue an intense blaze that was fed by exploding oxygen and propane tanks.

Nashville Fire Chief Mike Smith said his team essentially surrendered the P-K Manufacturing plant's north side to the fire and focused on protecting the south side.

The company makes agricultural spraying equipment, garden sprayers and custom steel products. Several explosions from propane and oxyacetylene tanks rocked the 85,000-square-foot building.

Fire officials said the biggest challenge in battling the blaze was the water supply. The nearest hydrant was more than five miles away. Tankers from several nearby fire departments were used to truck in water.

Investigators said about 30 percent of the building was not damaged, leaving its owner, Tom Schropp, somewhat optimistic about the future.

"Hopefully, we can salvage a piece of it and start moving forward," Schropp said.

Investigators have not determined a cause for the fire.

There were no injuries.

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