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‘It was loud ... like a big shock wave’: Building near 168th and Harrison collapses after explosion, fire

October 7, 2018

A building containing a dry-cleaning business near 168th and Harrison Streets collapsed Sunday after an explosion and a fire.

Just before noon, firefighters were called to 16869 Audrey St., said Assistant Omaha Fire Chief Kathy Bossman.

The building, which housed the Wardrobe Spa, was totally involved in flames and collapsed, she said.

No one was injured. The dry cleaners is closed on Sundays, and no one was inside the building.

Omaha firefighters were able to extinguish the flames, Bossman said.

There was no damage to any of the other buildings nearby, she said.

The owner of the business was on site but was outside at the time of the explosion and was not injured.

Neighboring businesses reported the fire and explosion to 911.

Brianna Rogers, a receptionist at Paw Spa Pet Resort, 16912 Audrey St., said: “The whole building physically shook. It was loud. It sounded like 100 M-80s going off at the same time. Like a big shock wave.”

She said she called 911 and then ran outside. “All I could see was just smoke and flames.”

Rogers went toward the dry cleaners and found the owner outside. He was visibly shaken, she said. His name was not immediately available.

He told her he had been trimming bushes when the explosion occurred. He was near his pickup truck, which was between him and the building.

The Metropolitan Utilities District shut off gas to the building, and the State Fire Marshal will handle the investigation.

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