December 21, 2014

Lake McConaughy wildfires contained, worries persist

Lake McConaughy fire/Photo courtesy of Joshua Mackey, KOGA

Wildfires burning around Lake McConaughy have been contained.

The area, though, remains vulnerable.

Keystone-Lemoyne Fire Chief Ralph Moul calls the fires either extinguished or contained. Fire crews, according to Moul, worked to damp down hot spots throughout the weekend. Eagle Canyon Fire, north of Brule on the south side of the lake, remains active. Moul expects trees in the rugged terrain will continue to burn within a containment zone, which pose no threat to the public.

Lightning on Thursday ignited six fires around the Lake McConaughy in Keith, Arthur and McPherson Counties. The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency said the fires burned more than 50,000 acres, but no significant structures.

Firefighters from 38 volunteer departments deployed to fight the fires. Thirteen National Guard members and two Guard helicopters joined the volunteers.

The National Weather Service warns that conditions remain ripe for lightning strikes with little or no rain, the cause of wildfires in west-central Nebraska as well as the earlier wildfires Niobrara River Valley in the north-central part of the state. Those fires burned through around 100,000 acres.

One firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion on Thursday. No other injuries were reported.

Joshua Mackey, KOGA, contributed to this report.