UPDATE: Downtown strip mall fire started on roof of Alsultan Lounge

Posted By: Lauren Fabrizi

As clouds of smoke faded, visible shards of glass and mounds of debris filled a strip mall near 17th and P Streets Tuesday morning. Nearly 60 firefighters spent Monday night into the early hours of the morning trying to knock down a large fire.

“When you get a fire in a construction like this, it really weakens the strength of the roof,” Inspector Rick Campos of Lincoln Fire & Rescue said. “And as a result, you can see the roof collapsed.”

Campos said the fire started on the roof of Alsultan Lounge at the southern corner of the strip. He said contractors were repairing gutters when their torch ignited some combustible materials on the roof. Flames quickly spread throughout the rest of the businesses on the east side of the building. Campus believes they’re all a total loss.

La Mexicana Restaurant and Market was one of the businesses destroyed. Jose Avila, who lives nearby, said he’d go there frequently for his groceries and a good meal. He told Channel 8 Eyewitness News he was friends Guillermo Haro, the owner of the eastern business strip.

“It’s sad for something like this to happen,” Avila said.

As Haro surveyed the damage Tuesday, he said it was the first time everything sunk in as he’s co–owned the restaurant for years. Now, his market and restaurant, as well as Alsultan Lounge have to be knocked down. 

Haro said it’s too soon to tell whether he’ll rebuild or relocate.

But at JRW Sales on the west side of the strip, there’s only water damage. Campo said there was a fire wall that separated the buildings. That owner said he’s not sure when his workers can head back inside.

Campos estimates at least a half million dollars in damage at this time.


Posted By: KLKN Newsroom

UPDATE: Inspector Rick Campos of Lincoln Fire & Rescue has found the cause of the strip mall fire that started Monday afternoon near 17th and P Streets.  

Campos said the fire started on the roof of Alsultan Lounge. He said workers were on the roof repairing down spouts and gutters when a torch ignited combustible material. 

Campos believes all the businesses on the east end of the building are a total. Rough estimates show at least a half million dollars in damage.

Posted By: Veronica Ortega    


UPDATE: Due to the fire street closures will remain in effect through the morning hours Tuesday. 

Fire crews were on the scene overnight as a precaution and to fight flare ups of flames due to remaining hot spots inside the building.

“When the roof came down it sandwiched a lot of material in between a lot of hot spots and a lot of burning material. Once that collapsed and pan caked together we’re just going to have a lot of material burning in the structure for a period of time,” says Battalion Chief Leo Benes. 

Benes says their goal overnight was to make sure the building didn’t collapse out into the street and to make sure the building on the west side did not catch on fire.

Lincoln police say 17th Street will be closed at O Street and traffic will be reduced to one lane from N to O Streets.

P Street will be closed at Centennial and 16th. There is also a lane restriction on 16th between Q and O Streets.

LPD are encouraging drivers to use alternate routes on Antelope Valley Parkway and Q to avoid the affected areas.

The fire inspector is expected to investigate the cause later this morning. Firefighters say they’re not sure where the fire started.

We’ll bring you more details as they become available.

Posted By: Laura Wilson


Part of downtown Lincoln was shut down as a fire ripped through several businesses, as well as a small apartment complex, early Monday night.

“It was chaos out here,” said one bystander.

The fire was called in just before 5 p.m., originating in one of the businesses on the corner of 16th and “P” Street. 

Crews are still investigating what caused the fire, or where it began—though it is believed to have started in La Mexicana.

“When we were first making our way down here, it just looked like maybe one fire truck was going to be able to put this out,” said bystander Mark Hutton.

“And then, before you know it, we’re watching them bust out windows and doors at ‘La Mex,'” he added.

Crews initially attacked the fire from the inside, but quickly evacuated after spotting telltale signs of a roof on the verge of collapsing.

“About 30 seconds after we pulled them out, they did have a collapse,” Battalion Chief Derald Murrell said.

“It was very fortunate that the firefighters were cognizant of what was going on—what they were doing and what they were seeing.”

Fire crews then moved to a defensive strategy, spraying water onto the damaged buildings, from the outside.

The flames tore through La Mexicana, Alsultan Lounge, All That Hair, JRW Sales, several other vacant stores, as well as a second story apartment.

“Things just started to escalate more and then we saw people that loved above the mexican restaurant—one guy frantically coming out, who looked really worried,” bystander Christian Bull recounted.

Fortunately, everyone was safely evacuated, including pets.

“It seemed really surreal just actually watching a puppy getting pulled out of a burning building,” said Hutton.

Authorities expect the building to be a total loss, including the apartment—though fire crews believe residents will be able to return to the apartment to retrieve some of their personal items.