Multiple Fire Departments Fight Large Wildfire in South Central Nebraska
RELEASE DATE: Apr 08, 2022
Local and state assets are continuing their response to the wildfire in Gosper and Furnas counties that has burned nearly 30,000 acres. Both counties issued emergency declarations Friday morning requesting state assistance.
Gov. Pete Ricketts issued a state emergency declaration today which allows state assets and the Governor’s Emergency Fund to be used for the response.
The fire began Thursday around noon, seven miles southwest of Elwood. Around 40 fire departments from across the state were on scene of the fire which began Thursday about noon, seven miles southwest of Elwood. Four local emergency managers from across the state have also deployed to the fire to assist in command and control.
Members of the Wildland Incident Response Assistance Team from the Nebraska State Fire Marshal Agency and the Nebraska arrived Thursday to assist in the response and currently there are six NSFM staff assisting in the response and investigating the origin and cause of the fire and five NFS staff.
Nebraska Emergency Management Agency has sent an Incident Management Assistance Team of seven NEMA staff to assist Region 17 Emergency Management Agency and first responders.
Two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters with crews, a 25-person Wildland Taskforce hand crew and support vehicles from the Nebraska National Guard are deploying to the fire today. A Nebraska State Patrol helicopter flew a recognizance flight to provide information to incident command.
Investigators with the Nebraska State Fire Marshal agency have determined the cause of the fire was accidental as a result of strong winds blowing a dead tree into a power line.
Eight structures and 48 outbuildings were destroyed in the blaze.
Incident Commander Brian Sisson reported the fire was 0% contained. (Note: In wildfire response, containment refers to a line built or established around a fire’s perimeter that will keep it from growing under almost any conditions. The most common and effective way of achieving that perimeter line – sometimes called a fire line – is to remove all vegetation and burnable fuel in the fire's path, making any further expansion impossible.)
“Responders are establishing a perimeter, working hot spots and cooling the interior of the fire,” Sisson said. “We are appreciative of all the efforts the firefighters are making to work this fire. We also need thank the community for their expressions of support.”
The American Red Cross has arrived at Arapaho to provide assistance as needed.
The evacuation order for the village of Edison has been lifted.
“NEMA staff are thinking of the family of Chief Darren Krull of the Elwood Volunteer Fire Department who was tragically killed in a head on collision while responding to the fire,” said NEMA Assistant Director Erv Portis. “We are keeping Phelps County Emergency Management Director Justin Norris in our thoughts as he recovers from his injuries.”
Norris remains in stable condition at a hospital in Omaha.