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A four-alarm fire overnight destroyed Lincoln's oldest grocery store.

Battalion Chief Jeremy Gegg says a Lincoln police officer sent to Ideal Grocery on a burglar alarm alerted dispatchers of the fire at 2:11 Thursday morning. The grocery store, a Lincoln landmark, is at 905 S. 27th St.

Police and fire officials weren't able to say what caused the burglar alarm to sound instead of the fire alarm, but Fire Investigator Don Gross said just before noon the fire is considered accidental. 

"We have been able to get into the building and the area of origin is their compressor room, which is what pumped Freon into the coolers," he said.

Crews arriving on the scene early Thursday morning quickly grew concerned about a possible building collapse and moved to a defensive attack. A portion of the roof caved in.

Just after 5 a.m., Gegg called the fire a total loss, adding the fire likely had been burning for some time before crews reached the scene. Gegg said the fire was under control.

Fire investigators said flames reached 30 feet at their highest, and some were still visible at 4:45 a.m. as crews were shooting water through the roof.

After 6 a.m., fire crews were focusing water on hot spots. At 8, they were still spraying water on the building.

No one was in the store at the time of the fire, and no injuries have been reported.

At least two-thirds of Lincoln's fire resources were at the scene overnight, Gegg said, and 27th Street was closed north of Capitol Parkway.

City officials planned to reopen all northbound 27th Street lanes and one southbound lane near Ideal Grocery at 2 p.m. Thursday.

"The front wall is free standing now that the roof is gone," he said. "It could blow over, and we don't want it to fall into the lane of traffic."

A chain link fence will also be placed around the building to keep people out and to keep any falling debris from getting to the road, Gross said.

Cranes will be brought to the scene to remove each individual compressor for examination by engineers to determine which caused the fire and why, Gross said.

Ideal Grocery has been a mainstay among Lincoln grocery stores since 1920, maintaining a presence on South 27th Street.

Founded by Gardner Moore, Ideal once was one of Lincoln’s larger groceries at 10,000 square feet. The original store opened at Ninth and O.

It remained a family business until 2012, when owners of Leon's Gourmet Grocery bought it.

An area resident said he's shopped at the neighborhood grocery store for 30 years, since he was in high school. Seeing the loss at daybreak was devastating, he said.

This is a developing story. Stay with for updates.

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Lori Pilger contributed to this report.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7395 or

On Twitter @LJSNicholeManna.


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