Lightning-sparked wildfires around Nebraska’s largest reservoir are coming under control as firefighters battle not only flames, but also wind.
According to a report Friday afternoon from Keith County Emergency Manager Pete Peterson, two of the five major fires burning around Lake McConaughy were still active. The McKeag fire, Ackley Valley Fire and Otter Creek fire were fully contained Friday morning.
The Eagle Canyon Fire, north of Brule on the south side of Lake McConaughy, was only about 75-80% contained early Friday afternoon. Officials say rough terrain was preventing full containment of the fire.
The Glen Echo Fire, in the northeast corner of Keith County and southwest corner of McPherson County, was about 90% contained early Friday afternoon. Officials say rough terrain there is also preventing full containment of the fire.
Peterson said aerial support was expected Friday afternoon to assist with the fires in the rugged terrain.
The last estimate, released Friday morning, said the fires had scorched around 56,000 acres. Officials are expecting to update that figure once full containment is achieved.
Peterson said one injury has been reported in the fires – a firefighter that was taken to the Ogallala Community Hospital for heat exhaustion Friday evening. His injuries were non-life threatening. No structures have been destroyed in the fires. Peterson said an aerial view of the burned areas shows structures fully intact surrounded by blackened land. Officials say crews did an outstanding job of protecting life and property.
An outpouring of support for the fire crews led to volunteers shutting off donations early Friday afternoon. The Keystone-Lemoyne Fire Department was accepting monetary donations and donations of needed items to support the crews. After an outpouring of support from local citizens, and even people from out of state, volunteers said they were no longer in need of any donations as of early Friday afternoon.
In Peterson’s report, he says a total of 38 volunteer fire departments responded to the fires in Keith, Arthur and McPherson Counties.
A number of other fires in western Nebraska were set off by Thursday’s lightning, including at least one in Garden County and one in Lincoln County. Cooler temperatures this weekend are expected to assist in crews’ attempts to extinguish the fires.
(Copyright 2012 by Clear Channel Ogallala. All Rights Reserved.)