The body of a homeless man found by Omaha firefighters inside a burning building has been identified.
John J. Lucas Jr., 40, was found Tuesday on the second floor of the abandoned Mac's Tavern at 16th and Izard Streets, authorities said.
Capt. Tim McCaw, an Omaha Fire Department spokesman, said Wednesday that authorities do not suspect homicide in Lucas' death. The cause of the fire remains under investigation, he said.
Mike Saklar, executive director of the Siena/Francis House, said Lucas was known to the staff at the homeless shelter.
“He had stayed with us the night before and then checked out the next day,” Saklar said. “Our staff knew his name right away. Like so many of our guests, he was just trying to get along.”
Saklar said Lucas' name will be read during a service at the end of the year that commemorates all Omaha-area homeless people who died in 2012.
The fire in the narrow brick-and-white-stucco building north of downtown was reported about 4:25 a.m. by a passer-by. Firefighters reported heavy smoke on approach. They had the blaze under control in about an hour.
McCaw said one set of stairs was unstable, so firefighters were forced to find a second set of stairs to the second floor, where the body was discovered in a southwest area of the building.
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