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Family of five homeless after house burns down in Millard

Posted at 12:55 PM, Mar 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-28 23:37:12-04

A family of five lost their home — and their dogs — in a house fire that broke out in Millard while they were attending a funeral Wednesday afternoon.

Fire crews returning to the scene Wednesday evening said they were concerned some hot spots may have reignited in what’s left of the charred home near 150th and Q streets.

The Omaha Fire Department said no one in the family was home at the time of the fire, reported around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, but that two dogs were missing.

Crews plan to stay on the scene to make sure the fire does not rekindle.

Neighbors said they heard a "pop-pop" noise before seeing billowing black smoke and flames coming from the home.

"It was like fireworks," neighbor Rick Lechner  said. "I don’t know if it was electric or whatever. It was popping and kind of small explosions the whole time while we working up there."

The two-story home was reported to be engulfed in a matter of minutes. 

"I just looked out and I saw clouds going by on the ground and I looked out and it was black smoke," Lechner said.

"It was just black smoke, just billowing all around," neighbor Amy Hynes said. "It all happened so quickly. The flames, the smoke."

Seeing cars in the driveway, neighbors initially thought the family was inside. 

"We thought there was kids involved," Lechner said. "So one of the guys took a rock and through it through the glass by the front door to see if we could get through the front door. Then flames started shooting out."

All that's left now is the skeleton of the house.

Two cars were in the driveway at the time, they said, leading some neighbors to believe someone might have been home at the time; they were relieved to find everyone escaped unharmed. 

"They were all together at a funeral, so it was a beautiful sight to see the little kids walking up, and the family as devastated as we were we were happy to see them," Lechner said.

It took fire crews about an hour this afternoon to put out the flames which destroyed most the home. Five people are now displaced and are being assisted by the Red Cross. 

The Omaha fire department says it’s too early to tell what caused the fire. Fire crews plan on remaining on scene for the next couple hours keeping an eye on hot spots. 

"It could’ve happened to any of us," Lechner said, "so hopefully it’s drawn us closer as a neighborhood, to know who is who." 

Stay with 3 News Now for updates on this story.

HOW TO HELP: The family has set up a GoFundMe page