Update on Buffalo Creek Fire

RELEASE DATE: Nov 17, 2021

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The unified command at the Buffalo Creek Fire in Banner and Scotts Bluff Counties is still working with state and local assets to fight the fire which started midday on Sunday, Nov. 14, and as of noon MST today is at 50% containment. Weather conditions are favorable for containment to improve significantly through Thursday morning.

Fifteen fire departments were present throughout the day Tuesday. Staffing was reduced to seven fire units from Banner County, Morrill County, Potter Volunteer Fire Department and Nebraska Game and Parks today.

According to NEMA Preparedness and Operations Section Manager Earl Imler who is coordinating with unified command to provide needed state resources at the fires:

  • Total acres burned is 2,595. Fifteen percent is on private land. During the overnight hours, the crews worked within the perimeter to better establish a containment line around the fire.

  • No structures have been damaged and no structures are currently threatened.

  • No injuries have been reported.

  • A UH-60 from the Nebraska National Guard coordinated with the command team to conduct an observation flight over the burn area, to identify any potential issues and solidify objectives for this operational period.

  • Air operations will be a coordinated effort between Nebraska State Patrol drone crews and two Nebraska National Guard UH-60 crews. The drone crews will continue to use their heat cameras to identify precise drop locations for the UH-60’s to conduct aerial suppression.

  • With the continued extraordinary efforts of state and local responders, the burn area could be turned over to a local volunteer fire department for monitoring as early as tomorrow morning.

The Buffalo Creek Fire sits within the initial district for the Banner County Fire Department. Unified Command has been coordinating with local and state agencies to bring various mutual aid partners to assist with suppression efforts. Throughout the fire, 27 fire departments have supplied resources, working 16-hour shifts to obtain containment.

“We want to especially thank the fire departments and firefighters who have worked so hard to bring this blaze under control,” Imler said. “In addition, the donations from the community are greatly appreciated. We are unbelievably grateful for the community donations that have been received. To all the businesses and citizens, we thank you. And thank you to Firefighter Ministries and Gering High School Public Safety students for their coordinated efforts.”

NEMA Assistant Director Erv Portis expressed his thanks to “our Nebraska National Guard soldiers who quickly responded when the call came on Sunday, giving up time with their families and work at their regular jobs to assist in this mission. We always appreciate the work these soldiers do to keep Nebraskan’s safe in our hours of need.”

Nebraska Game and Parks would like to remind hunters that while firearm deer season is open through Nov. 21, the Buffalo Creek Wildlife Management Area remains closed to the public at this time because of the fire.

Fire managers are expected to continue operations through the week to improve containment lines and focus on confinement efforts. Smoke and heat will be visible within the perimeter for weeks or until significant moisture occurs.