Fire near Branched Oak Lake threatening homes - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Cigarette to blame for grass fire near Branched Oak Lake

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By: Hannah Paczkowski

When Samantha Elliott drove to her home near Branched Oak Lake Sunday night, chaos greeted her as she looked out the window. 

"All these fire trucks just kept driving by and there were sirens and I was like 'I have no idea what's going on,'" she said.

It wasn't until she stepped out onto her back porch when she saw the blaze.

"We have all these trees and you could just see the smoke rolling up over the trees," Samantha said.

The flames were getting dangerously close.

Firefighters said the flames spread diagonally for about 600 acres, threatening close to 25 homes. Thankfully, none caught fire.

Raymond fire officials confirmed the blaze was started by a discarded cigarette lying on the road next to the grass.

"When you have grass, if it's a foot tall you can have 3 to 5 foot flames off that grass," Assistant Chief Shane Cuttlers said.

More than 20 fire crews from around the area battled the blaze. One firefighter from Valparaiso was injured and taken to the hospital. He was later released.

 "When our neighbors need help, we go help them and when we need help, our neighbors, fire–wise, come help us," LFR Fire Captain Dan Ripley said.

Other than a few burning trees, the fire is out, but the threat of it starting up again still lingers.

Fire officials said to contact your local fire district and get a burn permit before setting flames to anything. Also, be aware of the environmental conditions, like wind and thunderstorms, keep an extinguisher handy and stay with the fire at all times.

That way, homeowners, like Samantha, can rest easy knowing her home is no longer in danger.

"I don't want to lose our house or our animals, I don't want anybody to have that happen," she said.

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