A Jan. 9 explosion and blaze destroyed longtime businesses and left more than a dozen people without homes.
Old Market businesses and owners representing M’s Pub, Nouvelle Eve boutique, home goods store Niche and florist Habitat claim the city allowed the Metropolitan Utilities District to put a gas shutoff valve on the side of 11th Street instead of in the middle of the street.
Contractors with Linhart Construction of Omaha struck the 2-inch service line feeding the M’s building at 422 S. 11th St. MUD crews had re-installed the line less than a week ago.
M’s Pub is set to reopen in October, its owner told The World-Herald this week.
Aggrieved property owners on Friday received court permission to add the ratepayer-owned natural gas utility to the list of companies alleged to be responsible for the January 2016 rupture of a natural-gas line, explosion and fire.
Omaha taxpayers could be on the hook for damages arising from the M’s Pub fire, but only if a detail from the state fire marshal’s report on t…
Typically, a fire marshal’s investigation that finds probable fault under the state’s pipeline safety act ends with an operator like MUD fixing the deficiency, and the marshal closing the case after a follow-up inspection. But after an unusually lengthy review, the marshal sent a letter to the attorney general on Dec. 8, asking that he “bring an action against” MUD in district court.
The M’s Pub fire has sparked multiple lawsuits — but none of them has gotten very far a year after the blaze.
As build-out continues on the restaurants, retail and condo units at the historic corner of Omaha damaged by a fire in January 2016, merchants and residents tell of hurdles cleared and those yet to come.
A building at the heart of Omaha’s Old Market burned, and state investigators placed much of the blame on MUD, Omaha’s publicly owned natural …
Ann Mellen plans to reopen in the middle of next year at 422 S. 11th St. She plans to re-create the space’s interior down to its green marble bar, mirrored walls and arched doorways, and she plans to serve much of the classic menu.
The Metropolitan Utilities District anticipates it will spend roughly $400,000 on outside legal fees in 2017. If the budget for next year’s legal expenses holds up, it would nearly double the $226,469 MUD has spent on outside legal help this year.
Disturbing findings from a Nebraska State Fire Marshal’s draft report indicate that Metropolitan Utilities District might not have properly ma…
Ten days before the fire that gutted the M’s Pub building in the heart of the Old Market, the contractor digging in the area asked utilities to refresh markings on their underground infrastructure: electric, water, sewer, cable and gas lines. The utility that didn’t show up to the site? Metropolitan Utilities District.
Ron Samuelson, who has run M’s for 30 years with business partner Ann Mellen, plans to open Herbe Sainte, a restaurant and cocktail bar, this fall on the ground level of the Gordman’s building in Aksarben Village. He’s also in negotiations to open a second west Omaha restaurant as part of a new restaurant group that he’s running with his nephews.
Sued were Minnesota-based North Central Service, which did the digging to expand the Old Market’s fiber-optic network and ruptured a natural-gas line; Kansas City-based Unite Private Networks, which hired North Central to do the work; and New York’s Verizon Wireless, which retained Unite Private to oversee the expansion.
The underground excavators drilling in the area who hit the pipe couldn’t have known of its existence without the markings of nearby gas lines, the report said. MUD has previously said it marked the lines properly.
MUD “caused and contributed” to damages alleged by Old Market property owner Mercer Management in its April lawsuit, according to documents filed by Minnesota-based North Central Service, which was drilling underground when a natural-gas line was ruptured.
Since March, construction crews have been clearing debris from inside the building and shoring up the walls. They’re installing a permanent roof on the south side of the structure to “wall in the building” before winter arrives, building owner Mark Mercer said.
Deputy City Attorney Bernard in den Bosch sent a letter to North Central Service Inc. and its insurance company on April 22 outlining the city’s expenses, though the company has appealed the bill. The letter says that the city is charging the company under a city ordinance that allows it to recover expenses in a “hazardous material emergency.”
North Central Service Inc., of Bemidji, Minnesota, was cited for one serious violation for allegedly failing to use “safe and acceptable” means to determine the location of underground utilities in the area.
The story of M’s Pub has taken a colorful turn as locally produced artwork goes up on the fence surrounding the fire-damaged buildings at 11th…
The suit says Mark Mercer is sole owner of the building that housed M’s Pub, the popular Old Market restaurant that burned to a hulk in January. The suit was filed by the building’s owners, not the owners of M’s Pub, who have their own attorneys.
Money gathered from the event, scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Le Bouillon, 1017 Howard St., will go to stipends for the artists whose submissions were selected for banners to be placed around the construction zone at 11th and Howard streets.
Demolition has begun inside. A chute that runs from the building’s top floor into a big trash bin in the alley is being used to dispose of debris. Also being thrown down the chute: the walls inside the units, hallways and common areas.
The firefighters and police who responded to the M’s Pub explosion and fire in January were honored Thursday for their efforts.
Nicholas Bonham-Carter, a partner in the Mercer Management property firm that owns the M’s building in Omaha’s Old Market, told The World Herald the project could take several weeks to several months. Construction will start as soon as the necessary equipment is available, he said — as soon as Friday or Monday.
How to put changes into place? Dowd and fellow MUD directors said they are letting President Scott Keep take the lead on the path to improvement. They expressed confidence in Keep, who has worked at the district since 1980 and has been at the helm for two years.
The MUD operator dispatching workers to the scene that Saturday afternoon didn’t have all his regular computer programs up and running — a key one was offline that weekend for an upgrade. At one point he was tuned into a Kansas City Chiefs football game, not Omaha 911 radio traffic.
There isn’t any one agency with the authority to police what goes on underground — or even one set of rules. Generally, Omaha’s subterranean infrastructure is fairly well organized, say some of those who have been underground.
In the case of the Old Market, the first technician arrived on site 23 minutes after MUD was alerted by 911. It took more than an hour more for MUD to get the gas shut off.
Submissions are due by March 31, and a jury of local artists and art enthusiasts will select the images to be reproduced on weather-resistant mesh banners. The banners will hang for one year. The Old Market Business Association is seeking sponsorships from businesses and individuals to produce the banners.
An engineer's analysis, acceptable to city officials, recommends bracing the south, east and north walls of the Old Market's burned M's Pub building, but removing a portion of the north wall.
Business has been slow at many Old Market shops since the Jan. 9 fire that gutted the building that was home to M’s Pub restaurant and Nouvelle Eve boutique. The destruction of those two businesses, plus street and sidewalk closures at 11th and Howard Streets, kept customers away, shop owners say.
The Mayor's Office said the Mercers, who own the building in the Old Market, have hired Anderson Excavating to remove the awning.
That traffic hassle — and closed sidewalks — has taken some of the bustle out of the Old Market, business owners say. Since the fire, shoppers and diners have been sparse. The cold weather and snow haven’t helped.
MUD’s responsibility for the fire, if any, is uncertain. One issue for MUD is the time that it took to shut off the gas feeding the blaze. MUD controls natural gas lines in the area.
MUD was dispatched to M’s Pub after callers reported natural gas odor about the time of the explosion. It took 23 minutes for the first technician to arrive and an additional 72 minutes for MUD crews to shut off gas feeding the blaze.
Robin Larsen, an Omaha native and a California resident who is the daughter of the late M’s Pub founder, Mary Vogel, emailed Verizon Chief Executive Lowell McAdam this month. She asked for him to “take a personal interest in this tragedy” that burned the historic building, destroying the pub, apartments and the Nouvelle Eve boutique, and damaging condos, a shop and another restaurant.
The commission wants answers to the questions that arise when contractors digging underground hit telecommunications and gas lines, interrupting service and potentially endangering lives.
“Generally, everything looks optimistic,” Nicholas Bonham-Carter, who with Mark Mercer runs Mercer Management, said on Monday.
Business interruption insurance is intended to cover business expenses and provide income to keep the business alive until it reopens, and tips aren’t an expense of the business.
It would take several failed attempts to stop the gas at other nearby shutoff locations before utility workers ultimately came upon the actual M’s Pub service line that would finally stop the gas’s flow, according to internal documents obtained by The World-Herald in a public records request.
At Niche, a furniture store just west of the Market House restaurant, owner Rich Anderson has been waiting for more information about what might be salvageable from his store. He said he hasn’t been able to get into the store for more than 20 minutes since the fire except for a brief visit to grab his cash drawer.
Assistant City Planning Director Jay Davis said Thursday that the north wall needs to be removed because it is in danger of collapsing, although the building’s owners are seeking a second opinion.
The evidence unearthed by Omaha Fire Department investigators clearly confirmed for them what everyone suspected had caused the gas leak that exploded into the M’s Pub fire.
The crews melted ice off the sidewalk with hot water, then vacuumed the melt water away. They were to saw through the sidewalk, then squirt 4 feet of dirt away with pressurized water, sucking up the dirt to reveal gas lines in the area where an excavation crew was digging for a fiber-optic installation right before the Jan. 9 fire started.
Nite Owl is having a Jan. 25 fundraiser and tribute to M’s Pub that will feature both food and drink specials from the restaurant that was destroyed in a Jan. 9 fire.
The president of the company contracted to install fiber-optic cable next to M’s Pub said that he didn’t see the usual markings Thursday on th…
Assistant City Planning Director Jay Davis said the city now may not need to tear down the M's Pub awning before the excavation. But it will still be necessary to remove the damaged awning, he said.
A plumbing company is expected to spray hot water onto the ice atop the partially collapsed awning sometime this week.
More than a week after the M’s Pub fire in Omaha’s Old Market, water still is flowing through damaged pipes and leaking into the burned buildi…
Not being covered 100 percent by insurance seems to be a recurrent problem for restaurant owners who have experienced past fires in the area.
Among the largest employers at Sunday’s job fair were Ameristar Casino Hotel and the 88 Management Group.
Short-term and long-term challenges loom for the Passageway Gallery, other businesses in the area and for Old Market residents in the wake of last weekend’s fire. City officials said it could take up to five years to rebuild the fire-stricken building at 11th and Howard Streets.
A hodgepodge of local and national groups handles logging and investigating a company’s damage reports to utility lines, making it difficult — if not impossible — to gauge a company’s safety record.
Nick Bartholomew may have to tear down the space to the studs and rebuild, but he has a plan to follow from renovating the former Vivace in 2015, and some ideas for tweaking that plan to make it better.
M’s altered the fate of the neighborhood around its spot at 11th and Howard Streets. It changed the way Omahans ate and socialized. It convinced our city and its visitors that yes, we knew good food, but damn, we also knew atmosphere.
The building to the west of M’s Pub site has been turned over to State Farm Insurance, according to Mayor Jean Stothert.
The City of Omaha mechanically melted ice Thursday to try to gain safe access to the suspected origin of the M’s Pub Fire, and a downtown busi…
Omaha trial attorney David Domina said Tuesday that he has been hired by the owners of the destroyed M’s Pub to handle legal matters. That could mean lawsuits are coming after the Saturday fire that tore through the landmark building in the Old Market, leaving only a scarred hulk.
The first Omaha firefighters to respond to the Saturday Old Market fire described an initial rush to potentially save lives and the M's Pub building, then a brutally cold battle to save surrounding edifices as the gas-fed fire burned.
The Fire Department has handed over the building to the city’s Planning Department, which will check for structural damage and let fire investigators know when it’s safe enough for them to go back in to start trying to determine a cause of the fire.
Omaha OSHA official Jeff Funke spoke to The World-Herald on Tuesday morning after federal authorities began a formal investigation of North Central Service, which was involved in a drilling operation near the site of the explosion and fire that ravaged the historic M's Pub building.
It was a typical post-holidays Monday in the Old Market, except for a steady trickle of sightseers drawn to the spectacle of an ice castle at the district’s landmark intersection.
Visitors to Omaha’s Old Market can hear the difference that a few blocks make — from outdoor jazz to the clip-clop of hooves on brick streets.
Omahans are extending a helping hand to employees and residents of the Old Market displaced by the fire.
More than a century ago, another January fire tore through a building at 11th and Howard Streets. Photographs and news articles from the time …
Douglas County 911 released audio Monday of four calls reporting the fire to 911 between 2:50 and 2:51 p.m. Acting 911 director Mark Conrey said those were the first four calls to report the fire.
Todd Feldman, a structural discipline lead engineer at HDR Architecture, spoke with The World-Herald Monday morning about how fire and water might affect the Old Market building that burned over the weekend.
The cats, Goliath and Pearl, were in a condo above the Market House when the fire started in the building next door Saturday.
The frozen shell of the M’s Pub building might not survive the fire that ravaged it and the ice that encases it, but the owner is determined to rebuild the Old Market institution. Meanwhile, investigators are waiting for the building to be stabilized before they can go in and try to determine what caused Saturday’s explosion and fire.
As Omaha mourns the loss of the iconic pub and restaurant — even as we are relieved that no one was killed or seriously injured — we think of staffers like Smitty, who made M’s such a cool destination.
Monday morning, firefighters stopped pumping water into the M's Pub building and all crews pulled out from the location at 11th ad Howard Streets. An executive at a company that had hired a contractor to do work at 11th and Howard Streets said he was working with city officials to answer questions, too: “If a gas line was hit, why was it hit?” he said.
M's Pub was the oldest restaurant in the Old Market and a popular destination for special occasions. Readers shared their favorite moments.
Mark Mercer, clad in a thin trench coat and looking weary, said that he wouldn't "know much about the building until the inspectors and experts tell us."
The Metropolitan Utilities District said there was a contractor working in the area of 11th and Howard Streets on Saturday when many business owners and patrons of Old Market businesses reported that they smelled natural gas before the explosion and fire that destroyed the M's Pub building.
» Susie Keuck, owner of Nouvelle Eve, said the smell of natural gas was so strong in the shop that she went outside and informed a worker, who…
Dozens of people, some with children and dogs, came and went at 11th and Howard on Sunday, snapping pictures and taking video of the scene.
Omaha Fire Chief Bernie Kanger said Sunday around noon that it hasn't been determined whether the fire was related to natural gas. The city Planning Department superintendent said he didn't know yet whether the M's Pub building would be a total loss and have to come down.
Nicholas Bonham-Carter said the fire wouldn’t deter the Old Market’s owners and supporters from continuing to improve the historical district.
The restaurant’s interior hasn’t changed much since the late Mary Vogel opened it in 1972, originally as a pub that served food. She worked with three architects on the design of the space, a design that Bob Peters, a former Omaha city planner, an architect and an M’s regular himself, called timeless.
Fire crews were dispatched to a possible explosion at 422 S. 11th St. at 2:51 p.m. Saturday. "Upon arrival, crews found fire coming from the basement of the building and could smell natural gas at that time in the area," the Fire Department said.
The page went up around midnight Saturday and has already exceeded its original goal of $1,000.
Susie Keuck, who owns Nouvelle Eve, said a client came in the front door of the shop on Saturday afternoon; and as the door opened, Keuck said she smelled natural gas.
Fire Chief Bernie Kanger said early this morning that “the fire for all practical purposes is out.”
Within hours, one of the city’s most beloved restaurants — a landmark and anchor in the Old Market — was no more. And a historic four-story building located on the busiest corner in the Old Market was gone, entirely engulfed in flames.
Public photos and video from the scene of a fire at M's Pub in the Old Market.
Dozens of World-Herald images of the fire and aftermath