Rural fire departments still dealing with hotspots

Hallam’s volunteer fire chief said the dry conditions, wind, and the potential for members to be swept up, is a recipe for a rekindled fire.
Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 10:48 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Just because a wildfire is contained, and for the most part extinguished, doesn’t mean the danger goes away. A rural Lancaster County fire department has seen that firsthand.

Out near Hallam crews had to battle a rekindled fire and the damage is hitting close to home.

Hallam’s volunteer fire chief said the dry conditions, wind, and the potential for members to be swept up is a recipe for a rekindled fire. Wednesday night, the department responded to one at a farm that just so happens to be the childhood home of their assistant chief, Duane Aksamit.

“Either when the wind changed or something still underneath the leaves over there creeping around,” Aksamit said. “And well, we couldn’t save it. We got it, it was fully engulfed when we got here.”

Aksamit said a barn, a shed, and a grain wagon on that property, which already caught fire on Sunday, fell victim once again.

“That shed had a lot of stuff stored in that shed,” Aksamit said. “Just one we always used and now it’s gone, you know, and now to replace it, it’s gonna be tough.”

Then Thursday afternoon, volunteer fire chief Ryan Skillett and other volunteers went back to the farm again.

“Today the winds have picked up a little bit,” Skillett said. “So it shifted along the foundation over here, stirred up some flames and it’s just going up and smoldering.”

Skillett said the wildfires Sunday stretched across 9,000 acres and he and his department expect to deal with hot spots through the rest of the week.

According to the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, the estimated loss at the farm is over $12,000. Aksamit’s son lives on the property and said while personal items can’t be replaced, he’s glad the house has been spared.

“I grew up here, you know, we grew up playing in the barn,” Aksamit said. “To help to build that shed, raised a lot of hogs and cattle out of that shed. We lost a few things, a few sentimental things more than anything, but at least the house is safe.”

The Hallam Fire Department reached out to 10/11 Now Thursday night again, letting us know that they had to put out even more hotspots after an interview earlier in the day.

They said with dry conditions right now, it’s important for people to be careful and keep an eye out for smoke.