A wildfire that has scorched tens of thousands of acres and damaged homes in north-central Nebraska continued to burn on Saturday, July 21.
The Norfolk Daily News said the fire was burning in parts of northern Brown County and southern and central Keya Paha County. Regional emergency manager Doug Fox said the fire’s leading edge was six to seven miles wide as it moved through Keya Paha County.
Numerous homes and structures were damaged around the tiny community of Norden, although Fox said the exact number won’t be known until authorities survey the area.
A large air tanker from Rapid City, S.D., was dispatched to the area Saturday, as was a water-carrying helicopter from Lincoln.
No injuries were reported, but Fox said some firefighters were treated for symptoms of heat stress.
A resident of the area told the Daily News on Saturday morning that the fire was still out of control with reports that it had burned at least 20,000 acres in northern Brown County and southern and central Keya Paha County.
She said area motorists were not allowed to go north of Highway 12 because of safety concerns.
KNEB-AM radio in Scottsbluff reported that the fire had charred nearly 30,000 acres along the Niobrara River in north-central Nebraska.
Numerous homes and structures in the Norden area have been damaged, although Fox said the exact number of homes damaged won’t be known until the area can be surveyed.
Fox said more firefighting assets continue to move into the area, such as units from the six-county North Platte Mutual Aid District. Fox said those firefighters will concentrate on mopping up hot spots Saturday in both Brown and Keya Paha counties.
Reports said a Long Pine Volunteer Fire Department truck was destroyed by the fire, and a second truck belonging to the South Brown County Fire Department was damaged while fighting a second fire south of Long Pine on Friday afternoon. Fox said that truck will be salvageable but require new wiring.
Residents of Norden and the surrounding area were evacuated ahead of the fire reaching the community.
As of 6 p.m. July 20, the fire had burned an area more than 10 miles long and reportedly up to four miles wide in some areas near Norden.
Fox also said additional fires were burning north of Merriman in Cherry County on both sides of the Niobrara River, and east of the Spencer Dam in Boyd County.
All of the fires were sparked by a storm that carried extensive lightning but little rain.