Wildfire remains uncontained in eastern Cass County

The Nebraska State Patrol's Drone Team captured video of a large grass fire about 40 miles south of Omaha.
Published: Apr. 9, 2023 at 9:31 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 10, 2023 at 9:18 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Fire departments from across much of southeast Nebraska responded Saturday night to a brush fire threatening homes in the Lake Waconda area. Fire crews continued to fight the fire along the Nebraska side of the Missouri River, southwest of Lake Waconda on Sunday, as it turned into a wildfire.

In a press release, Nebraska Emergency Management said more than 75 firefighters from 26 departments continue to work on the fire that has burned more than 650 acres.

NEMA said the fire started in Iowa on Saturday and jumped across the Missouri River into Nebraska around 6 p.m.

Cass County declared a disaster Sunday and requested state assistance to help with response to the brush fire. Gov. Jim Pillen approved a state disaster declaration, which allows funds from the Governor’s Emergency Fund to be used to assist in the response.

Cass County Emergency Management and Incident Command requested that the Nebraska Incident Management Assistance Team integrate with local responders to help. The Nebraska National Guard sent a crew to work on the ground and a UH60 helicopter to drop water on the fire Sunday afternoon. The Nebraska State Patrol’s drone team arrived Sunday morning to provide aerial footage of the fire, and members of the Wildland Incident Response Assistant Team arrived late Saturday and on Sunday to provide technical support for control and management of the fire.

According to Incident Commander Shane Adams, of the Nehawka Volunteer Department fire command, the fire rapidly spread south to an area of East Union Road. Requests for all available units were immediately called as the fire was rapidly moving.

Adams reported that fire departments from across Cass County responded and assisted in fighting the fire. Additional units from across the entire State of Nebraska brought UTVs with water supply to reach the areas where full-size fire.

“The terrain of this fire is treacherous,” Adams said. “Relief from local fire departments arrived late into the night and [the fight continued overnight]. No structures have been affected at this time.”

Adams estimated the fire is 0% contained. He reports that firefighters will remain on scene to monitor and control the fire.

The Cass County Sheriffs Office called out additional deputies and specialized equipment to assist with the incident.

Fire Ground Command has summoned earth-moving equipment and additional resources and state agencies for assistance. Lake Waconda residents who evacuated on Saturday evening are returning to their homes. No structure damage has been reported.

As of 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, the Fire Ground Command had requested aerial-fire suppression.