UPDATE: Several homes destroyed by large wildfire in Gosper and Furnas Counties
NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - A large wildfire burned across Gosper and Furnas Counties Thursday and continues to smolder. Gov. Pete Ricketts issued a state emergency declaration on Friday which allows state assets and the Governor’s Emergency Fund to be used for the response.
According to the National Weather Service, around 30,000 acres have burned. The fire traveled over 20 miles and destroyed several rural homes and outbuildings with farm equipment inside. There are reports of animals killed.
The fire began Thursday around noon, seven miles southwest of Elwood. Around 40 fire departments from across the state were on scene of the fire which began Thursday about noon, seven miles southwest of Elwood. Four local emergency managers from across the state have also deployed to the fire to assist in command and control.
Members of the Wildland Incident Response Assistance Team from the Nebraska State Fire Marshal Agency and the Nebraska arrived Thursday to assist in the response and currently there are six NSFM staff assisting in the response and investigating the origin and cause of the fire and five NFS staff.
Elwood Fire Chief Darren Krull was killed in a car accident while responding to the fire Thursday. Phelps County Emergency Manager Justin Norris sustained serious injuries in the crash.
Region 17 Emergency Manager Roger Powell said 26 departments worked together to fight the fire in high wind conditions. They were able to contain the fire early Friday morning but several small fires remain. Highways are back open and evacuation orders have been lifted.
Nebraska Emergency Management Agency has sent an Incident Management Assistance Team of seven NEMA staff to assist Region 17 Emergency Management Agency and first responders.
Two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters with crews, a 25-person Wildland Taskforce hand crew and support vehicles from the Nebraska National Guard are deploying to the fire today. A Nebraska State Patrol helicopter flew a recognizance flight to provide information to incident command.
Investigators with the Nebraska State Fire Marshal agency have determined the cause of the fire was accidental as a result of strong winds blowing a dead tree into a power line.
An estimated eight homes and 48 outbuildings have been damaged in the blaze.
Local and state assets are continuing their response to the wildfire in Gosper and Furnas counties that has burned nearly 30,000 acres. Both counties issued emergency declarations Friday morning requesting state assistance.
Volunteer firefighters will continue attacking hot spots for days to come.
Incident Commander Brian Sisson reports the fire is 0% contained. (Note: In wildfire response, containment refers to a line built or established around a fire’s perimeter that will keep it from growing under almost any conditions. The most common and effective way of achieving that perimeter line – sometimes called a fire line – is to remove all vegetation and burnable fuel in the fire’s path, making any further expansion impossible.)
“Responders are establishing a perimeter, working hot spots and cooling the interior of the fire,” Sisson said. “We are appreciative of all the efforts the firefighters are making to work this fire. We also need thank the community for their expressions of support.”
The American Red Cross has arrived at Arapahoe to provide assistance as needed.
The evacuation order for the village of Edison has been lifted.
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