OMAHA, NE – The nearly 50 students who called building G of Scott Village on the Pacific campus of the University of Nebraska Omaha campus were accounted for Wednesday night after fire ripped through the building.
The blaze ignited on a third floor balcony on the southwest corner of the building just before 3:30 p.m. Wednesday before spreading to the attic space above. Residents of the apartment-style complex were staying with family, in vacant UNO dorms, or hotels as officials assessed the damage.
“I was doing homework and heard a couple girls screaming. We rushed outside and saw all the flames coming out of all the windows and everything,” said UNO student Kaitlyn Moore.
Students lined Pine Street as firefighters battled the blaze.
“People were throwing rocks at the windows next door yelling, ‘Get out, get out!’” said Maddie Peterson who lived next door. “I looked out my window and saw smoke billowing from the seams of the roof.”
Severe wind gusts fanned the flames as they spread into the unfinished attic space. The building’s fire sprinkler system did not extend to the attic. Capt. Tim McCaw with the Omaha Fire Department said that was common.
”There's not a whole lot to slow it down,” said McCaw. “So that's why a second alarm was called at 3:34 p.m. to bring extra man-power to the scene.”
Even then it took more than three hours to get the flames under control. A firefighter pulling hoses went to the hospital with a hamstring injury. He was home by nightfall Wednesday.
The dorm was expected to be closed for quite some time. University officials planned a series of meetings with students to address their concerns. The first was set for 7:30 a.m. at the Scott Village clubhouse.
“They will get whatever they need until we can figure out how to keep them comfortable,” said University Marketing Director Erin Owen.