Governor Issues State of Emergency In Wake of Recent Crop Fires

By: Bill Steckis Email
By: Bill Steckis Email

The state's dryest fall in recent years brings on fire and the state of emergency.

"There's a lot of dry, vegetative material out there," said Jim Heine, Nebraska Assistant Fire Marshal.

Most recently, damage from a Mead grass fire that spread quickly. Earlier in the week 20,000 acres, sparked by the exhaust from a combine, were burned near Stapleton. All told losses.

Damage creeps near $4 million. The National Weather Service issues red flag warnings and the State Fire Marshal issues advice.

"Be careful disposing any cigarette or smoking material," said Heine. "If you are driving around out in the fields, especially in grass two-three feet tall be careful because the catalytic converters on the pick-ups can and do start the grass on fire."

That has been the scenario through the Midwest this fall. Fire marshal Heine said three natural factors lead to dangerous conditions: dry air, low humidity and wind.

"Obviously the high wind is going to move that fire much more quickly than if you have calm days," said Heini. "And for the Stapleton fire, there was 40-50 mile an hour winds when the fire started."

With rain in the forecast, it brings good news and bad news. The bad news is the harvest will slow down a bit, and the good news...

"It certainly would help if we could get a state wide general rain and then let the farmers get back in the field and start harvesting," said Heine. "That would wet some things down and the potential lessens with moisture.

More rain is expected Friday night.

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