Officials 30 fire crews and nearly 250 firefighters have been sent to help battle flames that have blackened thousands of acres in north-central Nebraska.
Susan Ford is spokeswoman for a federal interagency management team that's been dispatched to help local and state agencies with the wildfire in Keya Paha County. Ford said Monday that three more ground crew teams of about 20 firefighters each are expected on the lines soon, replacing some local volunteers.
Winds gusting to 30 mph are expected to fan the flames.
Ford says an overnight aerial survey using infrared technology provided officials with an updated estimate of 65,000 acres burned, compared with previous estimates approaching 100,000 acres. As of Tuesday afternoon, the fire was 15 percent contained.
A vehicle accident injured two firefighters.
Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox tells 10/11 at least 10 structures in the Town of Norden have been destroyed.
Fox said he's issued an evacuation notice for all residents of the Niobrara Valley from the Norden Bridge east to Highway 183. This evacuation notice includes Meadville and the surrounding area.
Fox told 10/11 Springview is not evacuated, but the fire is a few miles away from the town. He says that could change if the fire threatens the town or changes direction.
Fox said the community has been great bringing firefighters water, gatorade, food and snacks. He told 10/11 if the community can keep that up, it's greatly appreciated.
Governor Heineman visited the Niobrara River Canyon Fire Saturday.
Sunday Fox said the helicopters were a big help. The only problem he said is pilots had visibility problems because of heavy smoke. Fox said that made it difficult for pilots to fight the fire from above.
The governor also activated the State Emergency Operations Plan in response to the fire emergency in Brown and Keya Paha Counties.
“I am continually impressed with the hard work of Nebraskans in difficult situations,” said Gov. Heineman. “The local communities are working very hard and are supportive of the efforts of local responders and firefighters, including providing aid in the forms of food and water. We will continue to work closely together as we fight these fires.”
In a press release Governor Heineman said the Nebraska National Guard continues to mobilize available resources as the response grows. This includes the mobilization of three Nebraska Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters equipped with “Bambi buckets” and approximately 28 personnel to provide support to local firefighters fighting a wildfire in Keya Paha and Brown Counties at the request of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency.
The helicopters are equipped with “Bambi buckets” which can scoop water from local sources and place the water where needed by ground firefighters.
The Nebraska National Guard is also preparing to send up to 35 additional ground, red-card certified Nebraska National Guardsmen to support local firefighters if needed.
Fox said the fire started Friday morning after lightning struck the area Thursday night.
Stay with 1011now.com and Nebraska Central News for updates as they become available.
Online donations are now available to help support the Fairfield Creek Fire. All donations are tax-deductible and will go to the Departments providing assistance, supplies, families in need, livestock feed, and fencing supplies.
PLEASE CLICK ON THE ABOVE LINK TO DONATE:
If you'd like to make a monetary donation to help fund the wildfire fight, please send donations to:
Ainsworth Fire Department
c/o: Fairfield Creek Fire Donation
P.O. Box 425
Ainsworth, Neb 69210