Arcing power line sparks fire near McCook on Tuesday

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MCCOOK, Neb. (KNOP) - The Red Willow County Sheriff says a Tuesday fire near McCook was started by a chain of events with the wind catching a loose piece of metal on a shed roof and flapping it. The metal then rubbed against a power line and removed the insulation causing it to arc.

Alan Kotschwar, Red Willow County Sheriff, says volunteer crews watched the hot spots all night long. He says they can't get everything put out because the trees keep reigniting.

Kotschwar says six volunteer departments watch the range lands overnight so his crews could sleep. Kotschwar says the ground cover is a real tinder box. The fires moved quickly with the winds and took no time to go thru canyons.

The fire forced evacuation on the northwest side of McCook. Kotschwar says the help they receive to fight the blaze was amazing. He had farmers and companies filled their water trucks for the fire department to use. He says volunteers donated and served food to firefighters from the 4-H building.

At least one person was burned Tuesday afternoon as 40-50 mph wind gusts whipped flames down a canyon toward the city. His name hasn't been released.

Students and staff at an elementary school were also evacuated to a high school several blocks south.

ORIGINAL STORY: Mach 6, 2018
Officials say a grass fire north of McCook led to immediate evacuations on the west side of town, north of Q Street and West of Norris Avenue. Officials said the evacuation orders have since been lifted, and residents are able to return to their homes.

The Red Willow County Sheriff's Office said the fire started three or four miles north of town and made its way southeast towards McCook.

Officials said they have also been dealing with structure fires. They said the high winds made the fire difficult to fight.

Officials said residents in the Lazy L Mobile Ranch were also evacuated due to thick black smoke in the area.

The Red Willow Sheriff's Department said mutual aid from surrounding towns responded to help contain the fire.

The Cambridge Volunteer Fire Department said, at this time, they are working to put out hot spots around the area, but the main fire is out.

The cause of the fire is not known at this time. Crews are also working to assess the total amount of land burned.

We will update this story as we learn more details.

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