Charges may be filed after charcoal grill fire

Posted at 6:04 PM, Apr 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-29 19:04:05-04

After a charcoal grill started a fire at a northwest Omaha apartment complex two weeks ago, the Omaha City Prosecutor wants to get tough on violators who grill out in a dangerous manner.

The city ordinance says that you cannot have a charcoal or gas fire grill on combustible surfaces.

The fire near 108th and Maple at the Maple Ridge apartments left nearly two dozen people without a home.
The tenants who were using the charcoal grill are in violation of the city ordinance, and now city prosecutors are thinking about filing charges, the first time these types of charges will be filed.

“Since this charge has never been filed before, to our knowledge, the computer does not want to recognize it, so we have to go through the steps to teach the computer what we are talking about,” said City Prosecutor Tom Mumgaard.

He said they need to make people aware of the ordinance that is in place and that it's being taken seriously.

“That means if you have a wood floor deck you cannot use either a gas grill or charcoal grill on that deck, if you do so it's a violation of the code,” he added.

Mumgaard said the tenant is responsible for following the ordinance but it also falls on the apartment complex owners.

“An apartment owner has an obligation to wander about and see if their people and tenants are using grills on their combustible decks, if so they need to stop it, otherwise they are subject to prosecution.”

The charges are meant to carry a strong message as grilling season heats up.
“It’s a message to everybody else in the upcoming season; we don't want to see any more apartment house fires that are caused my grills,” said Mungaard.

The violation of a city ordinance could be up to a $500 fine or could land someone six months of jail time.

Mungaard said the charges could be filed by next week.