More than 24 hours after a fire destroyed a popular Omaha funeral home one of the co-owners is talking about the fire. Bill Cutler raced to the scene thinking of the families he serves, determined to do what he could to get the bodies out of the building.
Crews were actually back out at the scene Wednesday morning monitoring hotspots when the fire rekindled. Tuesday afternoon, they removed debris and extracted the 9 deceased people that were inside.
At 3:20am Tuesday morning firefighters respond to the blaze at Heafey, Hoffmann, Dworak, & Cutler funeral home at 78th & West Center Rd.
Firefighters and Cutler, a co-owner of the mortuary, tried to get in when the fire was smaller. A wall and part of the roof collapsed on Cutler and the firefighter. They were able to get out of the building, which was fully engulfed in flames soon after.
A total of three firefighters and Cutler were hurt. All have been treated and released from the hospital.
Cutler had to get 12-15 stitches when part of the ceiling fell on his forehead. He says he was trying to see if he could remove the deceased still inside the building.
"That's what we do. Our families are always our main concern and our prime concern and we know how important it is to families to make sure their loved one is treated with a great deal of respect," Cutler explained. "When we went in we didn't think the fire was as bad as it was number one ortherwise the firefighters would've never let us go into the building and it just escalated from there."
The fire was under control in about 2 1/2 hours, but the building is considered a total loss.
The funeral home had 5 visitations scheduled for Tuesday. Cutler says they were able to make arrangements for almost all services to be scheduled Wednesday.
He wanted to thank the firefighters for their hard work also. They say they will rebuild at the same location.
Investigators have not released the cause of the fire.