Offutt Air Force Base teaser

More than 800 construction workers returned to the job on the new U.S. Strategic Command headquarters Friday, a day after a smoky fire forced the evacuation of the construction site at Offutt Air Force Base.

The fire burned about 100 feet of lined heating and air-conditioning ductwork on lower level two of a building where workers were welding, said Capt. Ryan Hignight, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District, which is overseeing the project.

“It was a short fire, but it produced lots of smoke,” Hignight said, prompting Offutt Air Force Base firefighters to don oxygen masks and inspect the ductwork to make sure no hot spots remained.

Bellevue firefighters also sent a firetruck and a rescue unit to the scene.

Two workers were treated for smoke inhalation and taken to a local hospital for tests.

Hignight said the burned section of ductwork has been roped off while Offutt firefighters conduct an investigation, which he said is expected to be complete sometime next week.

He said no estimate of the damage has been calculated yet.

The $1.2 billion StratCom headquarters is among the largest current Defense Department construction projects. Ground was broken in October 2012, and the current schedule calls for StratCom to fully occupy the building in mid-2019.

Construction on the project was slowed after mold was discovered growing in the ductwork in 2015, forcing workers to replace about 4,000 feet.

steve.liewer@owh.com, 402-444-1186

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