Crews remove gas meter from M's Pub building

Posted at 3:26 PM, May 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-25 18:34:35-04

Nearly five months after a massive fire destroyed M's Pub in the Old Market, investigators were at the scene again.  Crews pulled gas meters from the building, so they could get a closer look at what may have happened.

Back in January, a fire destroyed the M's Pub building at 11th & Howard Streets.  Safety regulators say a crew hit a gas line that started the fire.  No one was hurt.

Wednesday, about 15 fire investigators for insurance companies and representing interested parties documented the removal of four gas meters underneath the sidewalk outside M's.

The city says it's a huge step to move forward.

"Once we get this done they can start clearing debris out, they can go back to work the plans are coming into my office now to be looked at as far as what they're going to do with the roof and so on," said Jay Davis, Superintendent with the Omaha Planning Department.

OSHA says a crew working for North Central Service did not use safe and acceptable methods to locate underground utilities.

The Mercer family filed a lawsuit alleging negligence by Unite Private Networks, Verizon, and North Central Service saying they caused the gas leak and explosion.  Verizon contracted UPN to install underground fiber optic cable in the Old Market, and UPN hired North Central to do the work.

The gas meters likely a key piece of evidence to find out who's responsible.

Crews will remove debris from the M's Pub building Thursday and Friday, and then they'll start to work on plans to rebuild from the inside.

They hope to have more of the Howard St. corridor open soon, and possibly let businesses back in there.

The city wants to get 11th Street open by the College World Series, but whether or not that will happen is up in the air.