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Nebraska Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nebraska Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Cate Folsom for questions: [email protected]. Follow Nebraska Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.Three wildfires, in Jefferson County in southeast Nebraska, Garfield County in the center part of the state, and Cherry County near the South Dakota border, were burning as of Wednesday evening.About 2,600 acres were burned near Rock Creek Station State Historical Park in Jefferson County on Tuesday and Wednesday. (Courtesy of Jefferson & Saline County Emergency Management)In 2022, Fawl said, major wildfires were reported in each month of the year — a year that turned out to be the second worst for wildfires in state history.Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska state government and the state for decades. Previously with the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha Sun, he is a member of the Omaha Press Club’s Hall of Fame. He grows hops, brews homemade beer, plays bass guitar and basically loves traveling the state. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation.Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site.
Nebraskans want accountability from their elected officials and government. They want to know whether their tax dollars are being well-spent, whether state agencies and local governments are responsive to the people and whether officials, programs and policies are working for the common good. The Nebraska Examiner is a nonprofit, independent news source committed to providing news, scoops and reports important to our state.
In Cherry County, residents in the village of Kilgore were ordered to evacuate Tuesday afternoon. The evacuation order, prompted by a large grass fire in the area, was later lifted.LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — As crews in Cass County work to wrap up a fire near Lake Waconda, several more wildfires were reported around Nebraska on Tuesday.
Emergency declarations have been made in Cherry and Garfield counties, both of which were authorized by Gov. Jim Pillen. Both counties have requested that the state use planes to drop water and flame retardant on the fires.
The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency says six counties were struck by fires. Fire departments in Cherry, Garfield, Jefferson, Lincoln, Rock and Wheeler counties worked to battle the blazes.The Lowry Fire in Garfield County, the third that was active on Thursday, is now at 100 percent containment. However two injuries have been reported from that fire.
“While the fire is 65 percent contained, an important reminder is that containment does not mean the same thing as extinguished. Containment is the barrier around the fire’s footprint to prevent spread. Fire may be burning inside the perimeter,” according to NEMA.The latest update from the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency says the McCann Fire in Cherry County is now 60 percent contained and burned just over 7,000 acres.
The fire laid down more than expected overnight according to state liaison Chris Schroeder. He says the Nebraska National Guard CH-47 and UH-60 helicopters were effectively dropping water Wednesday and will continue working Thursday.
Jefferson County is experiencing one of its largest wildfires with the Rock Creek Fire at 2,600 acres. Fifty volunteer firefighters are on scene. Incident command reported the fire was at 30 percent containment this afternoon. A Nebraska National Guard hand crew are among the firefighters working the fire and a National Guard UH-60 helicopter is dropping water to extinguish the fire.Kilgore residents evacuated as a safety measure, Tuesday but were able to return to their homes before dusk. A shelter at the Cody High School was opened for those who evacuated.
The Lowry Fire in Garfield County burned 6,000 acres, 15 miles north of Burwell. Mop-up operations have begun. Two injuries were reported, and while the Rowes Hydraulic Rake Manufacturing Plant was not burned, a separate Rowes building used for storage was destroyed. The plant is located 22 miles north of Burwell. 13 homes, a church, a district 70 school no longer in use as a school, two well businesses and the Rowes plant were all threatened. Local aviation dropped water on the fire. NEMA adds that five structures were actually destroyed including one home and four storage buildings (one was that storage facility for Rowes Rakes).
Wind speeds have been sustained at 20 mph but are picking up this afternoon. Gusts of 30 miles per hour are expected. Nine agencies are working at the incident command post Fairbury Rural Fire Department to get additional resources to the scene as needed. “Local communities in Cherry County have used bulldozers to make fire breaks to help the containment efforts,” Schroeder said. “While four homes were threatened yesterday, firefighters were able to stop the fire’s progress without any structures lost.” People are asked to stay clear of the area to allow firefighters an opportunity to fight the fire. Donations are no longer being sought as community members responded quickly to requests made Tuesday.
The fire started southwest of Kilgore and spread rapidly toward the community of Kilgore. “Thanks to the speed of local first responders, the fire was stopped two miles south of town,” said NEMA Liaison Chris Schroeder. “Incident command’s operational focus today is to hold that line and work various hotspots in the canyon with an emphasis on responder and public safety.”
The McCann Fire in Cherry County is 0 percent contained and has burned 7,040 acres. A Nebraska Emergency Management Agency liaison is on scene to assist in acquiring state assets to the county. Local volunteer fire departments from Kilgore, Cody, Valentine and the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Nation in South Dakota are among the responders. Firefighters from U.S. Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Forest Service have also responded.
LINCOLN, Neb. (Press Release) – After wildfires started in six Nebraska counties Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Jim Pillen declared disasters in three of the six – Cherry, Garfield and Jefferson. The fires in Lincoln, Wheeler and Rock counties are now either out or in mop-up stages. Fire season, used to begin in July and extend into autumn, but now is considered to be year round, said Jody Fawl of NEMA, as reported by the Examiner. A fire that originated in McCann Canyon in Cherry County had burned approximately 7,040 acres of canyon and grassland and was 60% contained as of noon on Thursday.The threat of grassfires continued for a third day with west central Nebraska under a red flag warning with unseasonably warm temperatures coupled with more normal spring winds.
“In 2022, Fawl said, major wildfires were reported in each month of the year — a year that turned out to be the second worst for wildfires in state history,” after 2012. About 200,000 acres burned in the state in 2022 and 502,000 acres in 2012, according to the Nebraska Examiner.
Fighting the McCann Canyon Fire, firefighters from Kilgore, Cody and Valentine were assisted by Nebraska National Guard, which had dropped 19,000 gallons of water in 25 loads by the end of the day on Wednesday, using UH-60 Blackhawks and CH-47 helicopters.
“The operational focus … remains on the string of canyons along the Niobrara River” read the release. “The grassland where the fire originally began remains under control and firefighters are patrolling for hotspots.”Gov. Jim Pillen has authorized the state to bring on the single engine air tanker in April rather than the usual start date of July, according to the NEMA press release. The SEAT arrived in Valentine on Wednesday, and may be called to drop retardant on the McCann Canyon Fire.