Fire Destroys Nebraska Poultry Market

April 2, 2009
The east side of the building's roof collapsed, but no one was hurt.

OMAHA, Neb. --

Omaha firefighters struggled to control flames at a 3-alarm fire that destroyed the House of Poultry at 4111 N. 30th St. on Wednesday.

Firefighters got to the building at 4:37 p.m. Wednesday. By 5:15 p.m., multiple engines had arrived and at least 12 firefighters were dousing the roof. Smoke was still billowing from the roof at that time. The fire was upgraded to a 3-alarm blaze at 5:09 p.m.

By 5:30 p.m., crews were still fighting to get the flames under control. Firefighters on engine ladders were dousing flames at 6 p.m. Minutes later, they said they had the fire under control.

An employee at House of Poultry told KETV that he called police after walking into a compressor room and seeing smoke.

"I could hardly see what was burning back there. There was a lot of smoke," said employee Kevin Taylor. "I was scared. I didn't know what was going on back there."

Taylor said he and his co-workers ran out of the store, taking customers with them.

A firefighter told KETV's Jeff Van Sant that the east side of the building's roof collapsed, though no one was hurt.

It took Omaha firefighters 90 minutes to bring the fire under control.

"Not knowing exactly how the roof was constructed was one big concern because of the involvement of the fire and smoke," said Ed Karbowski of the Omaha Fire Department. "They couldn't find the seed of the fire, making an interior attack gets a bit scary in them without knowing what the roof was like."

Van Sant reported that the structure on fire was connected to a Family Dollar Store. Firefighters said the flames didn't spread to that store.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Longtime Memories

The market has been part of the north Omaha business landscape for decades and the manager said he wasn't sure whether the owners planned to rebuild.

"It actually hurts me," said longtime customer Robert Criss. "It does." He called it a blow to the neighborhood.

"I was devastated. I've been here 40 years running this place," said manager Norm Wine. "It's exactly as if it were mine. It's a part of me."

Wine said the building was "very old" and was a total loss.

"It wouldn't take much to burn it down," he said.

Manager, Norm Wine, said he's been with the business for 40 years.

He said he's seen several generations of customers come through the store, including children whose grandparents were longtime customers. He said the store was a second home to him, despite having found a body there once in the 1970s and was the victim of an armed robbery there last year.

"It's been a great store all these years," Wine said.

Wine said he has known owner Norm Plotkin since they were children, but that Plotkin is very sick with cancer. He said that if the Plotkins decide to rebuild, it won't be easy.

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