A wildfire in the northern portion of the Panhandle burned nearly 1,800 acres of grassland before being contained.
The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency reports high winds drove the Lone Tree Fire in Dawes County east of the village of Whitney in northwestern Nebraska Tuesday.
Five volunteer fire departments along with the United States Forest Service and two single-engine air tankers (SEAT) responded to the fire.
Region 23 Emergency Management Director Nan Gould requested the two tankers, authorized by NEMA. A tanker from Hot Springs, South Dakota also responded.
Acting Gov. Mike Foley signed an emergency declaration to pay for the response out of the governor’s emergency fund. Gov. Pete Ricketts is out of the country on a trade mission to Japan.
“This was a wind-driven event,” said Chadron Volunteer Fire Department Chief Pat Gould in a written statement released by NEMA. “The wind was primarily out of the southwest, however it kept switching directions. It pushed the fire northeast through some pretty tall grass.”
It appears a mechanical failure on a hay baler ignited the fire, according to Incident Commander Brian Prosser, chief of the Crawford Volunteer Fire Department.
Crawford, Chadron, Rushville, Hay Springs and Olerichs, S.D. volunteer fire departments responded. The departments spent approximately four hours working the fire. The U.S. Forest Service provided additional engines and Dawes County maintenance used maintainers and water tenders to prevent the fire from spreading.
NEMA Assistant Director Bryan Tuma says the Nebraska SEAT will remain on call through at least October the first to respond to elevated fire risk.