Nebraska Fires Claim 14 Homes

By MARGERY A. BECK | July 30, 2012

Officials monitoring three wildfires along the scenic Niobrara River in north-central Nebraska said Saturday that the flames destroyed 14 homes and had cost an estimated $2.5 million to fight.

None of the three wildfires grew from Friday to Saturday, but firefighters were still scrambling to contain two of the smaller fires, said Susan Ford, a spokeswoman with the firefighting effort.

All together, the fires had burned more than 117 square miles of land, nearly the size of Nebraska’s largest city of Omaha.

Officials reported as late as Friday that only 10 structures had been burned, but surveys of the burned areas showed that 14 homes and 17 outbuildings were destroyed.

Officials estimate the cost of fighting the fires so far at $2.5 million, mostly for salaries of firefighters and support personnel, as well as supplies and equipment like the helicopters and planes used to help battle the flames. The majority of the costs – $2.2 million – came from fighting the Fairfield Creek fire, the largest of the three, Ford said.

Firefighters had the Fairfield Creek fire completely contained by Saturday, she said. To the east, the Wentworth fire that had burned nearly nine square miles was only 50 percent contained by early Saturday, but officials remained hopeful it could be completely contained by Sunday.

Fire lines had been secured along the northern half of the Wentworth fire, Ford said.

“We’re working to button up the bottom half today,” she said Saturday.

Ford said the Hall fire, the smallest at nearly four square miles, was 70 percent contained by early Saturday.

Firefighters were helped Saturday by the cooler temperatures and higher humidity that moved into the area earlier in the week.

Three firefighters were slightly injured in the initial days of the fire, but no injuries have been reported since.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.