Air Assets, 30 Volunteer Fire Departments Battle Nebraska Fire

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Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 10:50 PM CDT
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BANNER COUNTY, Neb. (Release) - Erratic winds and a temperature inversion trapping smoke near the ground, are some of the obstacles facing firefighters in the 3,700-acre Smokey Fire in Western Nebraska.

Incident Commander Tim Grubbs, fire chief for the Banner County volunteer fire department, said he is concerned for potential erratic fire behavior that could occur when the inversion lifts.

“Firefighters from nearly 30 departments worked through the night to combat the Smokey Fire,” Grubbs said. “The many air assets fighting this fire along with those firefighters on the ground are working tirelessly to get this fire under control.”

Grubbs reported they are working on establishing fire containment lines around the entire fire perimeter but do not yet have a percentage of containment. He also reported that Wright’s Gap Road is closed for traffic and asked that people stay out of the area.

Grubbs also thanked the public for their generous support of the volunteer firefighter’s efforts. Donations are being coordinated by the Firefighter Ministries. Any additional needs will be listed on the Banner County facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100057241159793.

Air support: Nebraska single engine air tankers (SEATs) from Scottsbluff and Valentine deployed Sept. 13 at 5:15 and 5:30 p.m. The Hot Springs and Rapid City, S.D., SEATs deployed about 9 p.m. A large air tanker 854 (LAT) deployed from Colorado at about 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Multiple mutual aid departments responding. Two Nebraska National Guard UH60 (Blackhawk) helicopters have been activated.  A multi-mission aircraft MMA flight surveyed the fire Wednesday to assess the size and fire activity. An aerial attack aircraft was also ordered from Casper, WY., Wednesday morning.

Requested support: Banner County declared an emergency and has requested state resources.

Current incident threat and risk information: Homes on Wrights Gap Road were threatened, and fire trucks were stationed nearby to provide response, if needed. Advisory evacuations have occurred in affected areas. Additional evacuations may become necessary due to fire spread. Smoke is prevalent in populated areas,

State deployments: The Wildland Incident Response Assistance Team (WIRAT) which is made up of Nebraska State Marshall and Nebraska Forest Service staff deployed on Tuesday, and Nebraska Type 3 Incident Management Assistance Team was in route on Wednesday afternoon.

Size and scope: The MMA flight reported the fire was at 3,700 acres Wednesday afternoon. There is potential for continued fire growth and runs/ breakouts. The fire is burning mostly timber (cedar and pine fuels.)

Weather:  Shifting wind speeds of 5 to 10 mph, low humidity and warm temperatures are contributing to spread of the fire.

Location: 41° 38.688′ Lat; 41° 38.688′ Long. 15.67 miles southeast, of Gering Fire Station

Objectives:

  • Responder safety
  • Continued fire line building
  • Reinforcement
  • Continue to improve containment.

·      Back burning operations are underway. Back burning is a procedure used to stop wildfire by setting fires that burn toward the fire to create containment lines.

Smokey Fire Statistics:

Size: 3,700 acres

Containment: ?? %

Total Personnel: ??

Location: Banner County

Reported: Sept. 13, 2022

Injuries to Date from Initial Attack: none

For More Information on Smokey Fire:

(402) 326-3179 or (402) 540-6552

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100057241159793

https://www.facebook.com/nema.page

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/NEMAtweets