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Falls City Fire Crews Battle Overnight Fire

It was a battle against the elements for firefighters in Falls City, Nebraska Wednesday.

Posted: Jan 5, 2018 11:35 AM

(FALLS CITY, Ne.) It was a battle against the elements for firefighters in Falls City, Nebraska Wednesday.

Fire crews responded to a call of heavy smoke coming from Potrillos Mexican Restaurant, located in the town's historic downtown square, at around 9 a.m. 

"We responded with all three of our trucks," Jon McQueen, FCFD public information officer, said. "Falls City Fire Department is set up with an automatic mutual aid, so Falls City Rural Fire Department was also called."

Seven fire departments in total responded to the early morning fire. That list included Hiawatha, Falls City, Falls City Rural, Morrill, Shubert, Rulo and Humboldt.

Fire crews said the freezing cold temperatures posed many obstacles while battling the blaze.

"There was some issues with some air packs, stuff starts freezing up," McQueen said. "We try to flow a lot of water, but it just starts freezing at the same time."

The water also caused issues for surrounding buildings. McQueen said the power was shut off for a few surrounding blocks because water was being sprayed over primary power lines.

"They cut those power lines out to probably two or three city blocks, or whatever was effected, until they were successful," McQueen said.

The department also had to bring in a city bucket truck because their truck had failed due to the subzero temperatures.

Authorities said no injuries were reported in the fire, however a few individuals were asked to evacuate from an apartment building next to the restaurant.

Surrounding businesses said they have several inches of water in their basements or ground floors.

"While it mainly impacted the Mexican restaurant, there was a furniture store next door and so just smoke alone caused damages all over their product," Amber Holle, Chamber of Commerce executive director, said.

Despite the damages, these businesses went above and beyond to bring comfort to the firefighters during the battle. McQueen said several of the businesses stayed open all through the night to provide fire crews with a place to escape the frigid cold.

Many people also brought food. McQueen said at one point someone brought the crews about 20 pizzas.

"The doctor's office brought food, the hospital brought food, coffee and hot chocolate," McQueen said.

A local photographer also decided to document the bravery and dedication of the firefighters. 

"They're all volunteers, and they all stopped what they were doing. It was just amazing to see how they all came together," Jessica Santo, owner of Jessica Santo Photography, said.

Santo said her photos have been shared over 100 times on Facebook, and that she would like to give a copy of her photos to any of the firefighters who would like one.

Another witness said she was taken away by the amount of determination the firefighters had despite the freezing cold temperatures.

"There was nothing that was going to beat them," Lori Gottula, freelance photographer and writer, said. "They were going to beat this fire before it took the whole block, and that was amazing."

McQueen said he believes the fire may have started in the basement of the restaurant. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

St. Joseph
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St. Joseph
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Skies are expected to remain cloudy tonight and into Thursday morning. Sunshine returns to the area by Thursday afternoon and that will allow temperatures to warm up into the mid to upper 30's Temperatures will continue to be on the warm side with high temperatures reaching into the upper 40's by the end of the week. Over the weekend we will see a chance for rain and warmer temperatures with highs in the lower 50's.
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