Burke, Dallas, Gregory fighters join in battle against Neb. blazesFirefighters from those three communities have worked long shifts, at times 14 hours straight, battling grass fires, protecting structures and doing other tasks. They have provided several fire trucks and ambulances to join in the effort.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
Volunteer firefighters from the Burke, Dallas and Gregory fire departments are assisting in fire suppression efforts in north-central Nebraska.
Firefighters from those three communities have worked long shifts, at times 14 hours straight, battling grass fires, protecting structures and doing other tasks. They have provided several fire trucks and ambulances to join in the effort.
“I know we have guys who have worked 12-hour shifts and our chief and some others worked 24-hour ones,” said Mike Green, a Burke firefighter. “We want to help our neighbors and the area out.”
They have joined other volunteer firefighters from Winner and Colome in crossing the state line to battle three blazes that have blackened more than 100 square miles just across the state line, about 30 miles from the South Dakota towns.
The Fairfield Creek and Wentworth fires started Friday evening and the Hall fire followed on Monday night.
The three blazes, located near the scenic Niobrara River, have covered 72,405 acres.
The Fairfield Creek fire is the largest at 66,745 acres, while the Wentworth fire has swept across 3,278 acres and the Hall fire another 2,382.
After five days of temperatures near or above 100, a cooler, wetter weather pattern moved through the area Wednesday night, according to Mike Wight, of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency.
“The weather’s helping and it’s going better,” Wight said. “We’re just having a little luck today; it’s not over, but it’s better.”
He said the Nebraska firefighters were glad to have the help from their neighboring state. No more additional resources were being called in, he said.
At least 10 structures have been destroyed.
“We’re pretty sure there’s more but we don’t have confirmation yet,” he said. “We know there’s several homes, from what we’re getting anecdotally.”
The South Dakota firefighters were exhausted after battling the Nebraska fires for several days when they had to deal with a fire in their own area.
An older, vacant house caught fire after 10 p.m. Monday and Dallas and Gregory firefighters responded. Most of the house was destroyed, but no one was injured.
“It was a long day for a lot of those guys,” said Gregory Finance Officer Al Cerny, who is a member of the town’s volunteer fire department.
“They were just getting home and getting cleaned up and going to bed when they got called out to assist with that.”