The Nebraska State Fire Marshal's office has issued a report on the January explosion and fire that destroyed the Mercer Building at 11th and Howard in the Old Market.
The Fire Marshal's report says a gas service line into the building was not properly marked, and that the underground excavators drilling in the area could not have known where the line was. The crew struck the gas line causing a leak, which ignited in the basement of M's Pub.
The Metropolitan Utilities District issued the following statement on the Fire Marshal's report. The Metropolitan Utilities District is aware of the June 23, 2016 letter from the Nebraska State Fire Marshal's Office. The District has discussed the letter with the SFM. The SFM has told the District that it does not need to respond to the letter pending the SFM conducting further investigation. To date, the District has not heard further from the SFM.
Given the SFM's continued investigation, it would be premature to draw any conclusions. The District has consistently maintained, and will continue to maintain, the District properly responded to all Nebraska811 requests, the District properly marked all utilities in front of 422 South 11th Street, and the fire's cause is a direct result of the horizontal drilling company's failure to follow routine and standard procedures for identifying the position of underground utility lines prior to commencing operations.
This position is consistent with the conclusions of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in its citation issued to the horizontal drilling company.