Fire crews are working hard to put out fires in north-central Nebraska
By Tia Heidebrecht, Chief Photographer - bio | email
NEAR AINSWORTH, Neb (KTIV) -
With some of the hottest temperatures and the worst drought in decades, the danger of wildfires is severe.
Fire crews are working hard to put out the fires in north-central Nebraska.
Firefighters are working to extinguish one of largest wildfires in Nebraska history.
A week ago, when this fire started, temperatures were over 100 degrees, the relative humidity was only 10-15 percent and it was windy.
But things have changed since a cold front came through, on Wednesday it was only in the 80's, Thursday morning in the 60's.
In some of the canyons, the fire is contained, however, the temperatures will return to the 90's and the humidity will drop and that could flare a fire again.
The flame that started all of this was sparked by a lightning bolt.
"We got paged to the Fairfield Creek Fire. When we got just to north of Johnstown, we looked over and we saw smoke, actually, we saw a lot of smoke and we knew we had something big. So right away we called for mutual aid," Brian Fiala, Ainsworth Fire Chief said.
The flames quickly escalated into a fire that was beyond local firefighters' control. So, regional, state and federal fire crews started pouring in to help fight.
"The evidence of the trees and how tall they are. They are 60-80 feet tall and usually with it all torched up with all of the needles and stuff burnt, that's usually a good two to three times that height at least of flames going through here," Steve Ross, A heavy equipment boss firefighter from California said.
With that estimate, that would put the flames well over 100 feet in the air. Making the fire fight even more challenging was a strong south wind.
"Spotting is a spark that gets up in the wind, carries with the wind and for whatever reason and then deposits and starts another fire, a mile is a really long distance," Susan Ford, a Public Information Officer for the Rocky Mountain 20th Incident Management Team said.
Spotting is what spread the fire earlier. Firefighters are very optimistic about controlling these fires.
"Our plan is to still work hand in hand with the Rocky Mountain Fire Suppression Team and hopefully by Sunday sometime, they'll turn the fire back over to the BTR Fire Protection District and they'll leave," Fiala said.
Even if this fire is 100-percent contained by the weekend, this could still be a very long fire season, if significant rain doesn't fall soon.
Officials say only 10 percent of fires from lightning strikes actually turn into full blown, out of control, fires like this one, but conditions were just right due to an extreme drought in the area.
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