All evacuation orders previously in place have been lifted as of 6:30 P.M. Sunday and residents displaced by the evacuations are allowed to return to their residences.
The Incident Management Team wants to remind residents that there still may be smoke and open flames in the area. Firefighters will continue to patrol in and around the area. Residents should also be careful if walking or moving around in the forested areas for trees that may be hung-up or weakened at the base of the tree by fire damage.
Currently the fires have burned 88,180 acres in total. The West Ash fire has burned 58,450 acres and is 55% contained, while the Douthit fire has burned 29,730 acres and is 95% contained.
Progress was made today in removing snags and hazard trees along roads, near houses, and extinguishing spot fires in fuels that continued to burn near containment lines and structures. Significant mop up was completed on both fires. Interior burning of unburned fuel within the fire perimeter continues. Residents should expect to see smoke for the next several days.
Tonight firefighters will continue to hold containment lines and mop up spot fires that show up. Fire behavior analyst Al Stover cautioned firefighters to remain vigilant as fuel moisture remains at “unprecedented” dry levels.
Sunday night’s weather forecast is calling for a 30% chance of dry thunderstorms and winds switching directions to become light and variable by morning. A relatively strong inversion will set in and may lead to smoke pooling along low lying areas by morning.
As the fire progresses into mop up stages fire officials have begun the process of assessing damage and discussing how best to repair and mitigate impacts caused by firefighting activities.
Safety of firefighters and public continues to be the number one objective for the incident. There have been no reportable injuries or accidents.
Ranchers who live in the area know that the wildfires raging in northwest Nebraska and southwest South Dakota will leave a lasting impact on the land.
Verona Douthit has lived in the hills of northwest Nebraska all 65 years of her life, and now she has a fire named for her because one of the wildfires started on her family land.
Douthit says she knows it takes a long time for the land to recover from fire because some of her family's land burned in 1989, and the pine trees she loves may never be the same.
But Douthit says it's fantastic to see the way people came together to help fight the fire.