Lawmakers Preparing for 'New Normal' of Mega-Fires

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Massive wildfires blamed on the summer drought are prompting lawmakers to rethink Nebraska's approach to fire safety.

Lawmakers will consider a bill this week that would add new firefighting resources in some of the most remote corners of Nebraska. The measure by Sen. Al Davis of Hyannis would station single-engine air tankers near Chadron and Valentine to help fight fires in the Panhandle and the Sandhills.

The bill would also require the Nebraska Forest Service to thin its forests and expand training programs for residents and volunteer firefighters.

State Forester Scott Josiah says Nebraska will likely see a "new normal" of mega fires because of heat, climate change and the spread of highly flammable pine trees.

Davis will present the measure Friday to the Legislature's Natural Resources Committee.

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