INTERVIEW: Old Market resident recalls gas smell

Posted at 12:37 PM, Jan 11, 2016

Downtown resident Rebecca Keating-Lefler describes her experience during the Old Market explosion and fire:

“I had been at UNMC, at the college of nursing where I work, came home, brought work home and when I turned the corner because my parking spot is in this alley, it was blocked off by the men working. And so I had to drive over around the block and the smell of gas on 11th and Howard was so awful I couldn’t breathe. So I pulled my car in the alley and I ran upstairs and dropped off my work. And I called 911 to tell them about the gas, that I could smell a leak. And I ran to my neighbors and knocked on their doors to tell everyone to get out and my friend and I started to gather our stuff and the whole building shook with the explosion. Smoke started filling – I’m on the fourth floor. It was already coming in the fourth floor. We tried to get on the elevator, got stuck in the elevator on the second floor, but it opened up and we came running out and they were evacuating. The explosion took place at M’s and people were screaming and running out of there, trying to get away from the fire. And the police were just yelling for everyone to evacuate the two block area and that’s what’s happened so far.”

Q: Was anyone hurt?

“I don’t know. No one in my building was. Everyone was evacuated safely from the 420 condo building.”

Q: What’s going through your mind?

“No, It’s that blink of an eye stuff that happens. You’re fine one minute and the next minute, there’s a gas leak. The men had been working on these corners and in front of the alley all week long. I don’t know if that’s what caused it, but that’s, I believe, certainly a big factor.”

Q: What did the explosion feel like?

“Well the whole building shook. It was like an earthquake. It was very frightening. I feel we’re very blessed to have gotten out. I pray everyone at M’s is OK. They’re all very good friends of ours that work there and own the restaurant. Our prayers are with them.”

Q: You think the explosion was at M’s Pub?

“Correct, the flames were coming from the basement of M’s.”

Previous coverage on KMTV:

Details emerge from Old Market fire

The Market House's future uncertain after M's Pub fire

Fire crews remain on scene of icy M's Pub fire

M's Pub employee says she knew something wasn't right