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To the editor:
As business owners in Lincoln we would like to
thank everyone for the expert help during a fire event in the 500
block of Woodlawn on 5/26/14.
We are writing this for several reasons but mostly to show our
appreciation for the respectful citizens and the professionals on
the fire and police departments.
On 5/26/2014 at approximately 11:09 p.m. we received a call stating
that the pet store was on fire. Naturally a panic set in and our
only focus was to get to the scene so we could assess the damage or
potential damage. Concern for the animals and the property was
naturally our first concern.
Our next statements are to head off some of the arm chair
quarterbacks that naturally come alive during an event like this.
Questions and statements are always thrown about regarding the way
the fire and police handle these situations as well as causes and
suspicions. I want to continue by stating that I am aware of these
situations as a six year veteran of a fire dept. two of which was
Fire Chief and a 14 year law enforcement veteran of which almost
11years as Chief of police.
We will not address causes of the fire at this point because we do
not know what has been determined to be the cause, nor if that
determination has yet been made. What I will address is what we saw
upon our arrival at approximately 11:20 p.m. and moving through the
early morning hours.
As you can imagine our curiosity and emotions were running very
high. Upon approaching the scene we saw a very large amount of smoke
and many pieces of fire equipment and police cars. The fire
department had made some very good choices in staging the equipment
in an effort protect the scene, fire fighters and the public. The
water lines we laid out and the equipment was staged strategically
to best get water to the fire. The police had the crowd in an
isolated but safe area and the roads blocked so traffic from
passersby’s could not become a hazard to themselves or the
professional working the scene. We could see that the pet store had
not been damaged to this point by fire but we were nervously curious
about the possibility of smoke causing harm to the animals.
The fire dept. was applying water in large volumes and had worked to
vent the smoke from the building to attempt to assess the location
and type of fire. There is no doubt in our minds that the fire
command made many intelligent decisions during the set up and battle
plan to stop this fire. It appeared that a decision was made to not
send in the firemen, this decision was in our minds, a very smart
one. As we all know the restaurant industry can create a great deal
of grease over time. As with any grease fire there can be flashes
without any warning as was evident with this fire. As the building
burned it appears that the fire was in one area and then moments
later it would flare up in another. This kind of fire is very
dangerous to fight and can cause severe casualties without any
warning. Instead of entering the building the water was sprayed from
the outside using an aerial truck and men on the ground all while
two firemen were watching the dividing wall through the removed
windows of the next business to make certain that the fire did not
spread to adjacent businesses.
[to top of second column in this letter]
When it appeared the fire was under control the fire command allowed
us to enter the pet store momentarily to check on the animals. Upon
opening the front door we could see that the smoke had not yet
entered the store and the immediate danger to the animals appeared
to be minimal. After speaking with a member of the fire dept. it was
determined that we should remove the animals in an effort to prevent
any harm to them. The concern was the fire was still not out and if
it flared up and took off to adjacent businesses we may not be able
to get them out. There were two police officers who assisted us in
determining the best way to remove the animals, because the smoke
was heavy out front due to the southeast winds we decided to remove
them from the back of the building.
There were many concerned citizens and animal lovers that wanted to
help us in this effort, but due to lack of space and not wanting to
endanger anyone unnecessarily we kept the number of friends to a
minimum to help us. We removed several animals that we felt would be
the most susceptible to the smoke hazards. These were loaded into a
truck and taken up the street to a safe location where we waited to
see the outcome of the fire.
Several hours passed before the scene was considered safe and we
were allowed to go back into the building.
Once inside of the building we could see that the animals appeared
to have suffered no ill effects of the night's events. The removed
animals were placed back into their homes and were no worse for
We wish to thank the friends who assisted us in removing and storing
of the animals for a few hours while we waited to see what was in
store for the night.
We want to give a special thank you to the professional of the Fire
departments, the Police department and the citizens who maintained
their distance and allow the public safety officials to do their
jobs in a safe and efficient manner.
And to the couple of soreheads who know more than anyone else thanks
for staying out of the way while the real experts did their job.
Lincoln can and should be proud of their public safety officials,
they are professionals.
We the Pet Connection, again Thank you all.
Sherry and Jeff Cast
May 30, 2014]
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