Gov. Dave Heineman has activated the State Emergency Operations Plan in response to the fire emergency in Brown and Keya Paha Counties, according to his office.
Heineman traveled to observe the wildfire in north central Nebraska. He also spoke with local responders in Ainsworth, Long Pine and Norden.
“I am continually impressed with the hard work of Nebraskans in difficult situations,” said Heineman in a written statement issued by his office. “The local communities are working very hard and are supportive of the efforts of local responders and firefighters, including providing aid in the forms of food and water. We will continue to work closely together as we fight these fires.”
The Nebraska National Guard has mobilized to help fight the fires. As part of the mobilization, three Nebraska Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters equipped with “Bambi buckets” have flown to the area. Approximately 28 Guard personnel have been activated to provide support to local firefighters fighting a wildfire in Keya Paha and Brown Counties at the request of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency. “Bambi buckets” allow the helicopters to scoop water from local sources and pour it where needed.
Thirty-five addition Guard personnel are on stand-by if needed.
The Nebraska State Patrol, Nebraska Department of Roads, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and the State Fire Marshal’s Office also have responded.
Earlier, Heineman issued an emergency declaration for statewide drought and fires. The declaration allows state personnel and resources to assist with emergency situations and prevention. It allows Nebraska National Guard and Nebraska Emergency Management Agency assets and resources to be used as needed.