15+ Volunteer fire departments save homes, residents from Guide Rock grass fire
Residents in Guide Rock, Nebraska are breathing a sigh of relief after their homes and livestock were saved from a fast growing grassfire on Thursday evening.
GUIDE ROCK, Neb. – (KLKN) A grass fire in Guide Rock, Nebraska threatened the lives of thousands of livestock and forced many of the 300 residents out of their homes Thursday afternoon.
“It was unbelievable,” says Guide Rock resident Katelyn Duffy. “It just kept going. The wind was blowing 60 in your face reminding you that this was not done.”
Like many others, Duffy was frightened and panicked when the fire began consuming her fields and property. She says while helping nearby neighbors move their cattle, she began to see the magnitude of the flames.
“I got north and then I realized the situation was way worse than what I had ever anticipated and realized I need to start moving my cows south before that fire got to us.”
Duffy and other community members scrambled to lay down fencing and open pens to save their livestock and allow them to get away from the flames on their own. Duffy’s husband, a volunteer firefighter for Guide Rock, called her several times telling her to leave the home.
“My husband called again and told me to get out, and I told him I’m not leaving until these calves get gates opened and they get a chance,” she tells Channel 8 News.
Duffy says she went to another of her properties nearby to retrieve a tractor, but more fear set it.
“That’s when I popped up over the hill and my house was covered in smoke. I couldn’t see, I didn’t know if we had a house…nothing,” she says. “But I had my kids safe, I had their clothes, my animals were safe. So, that’s all that mattered.”
Hours later, when she realized her home was saved, she was awestruck by the incredibly hard work of the local volunteer fire departments.
“It was pretty crazy,” says Kyle Ord, a member of the Red Cloud volunteer fire department. His crew was one of close to 20 nearby departments that came to Guide Rock to help contain the flames.
“There was times I couldn’t even see the ground outside the driver’s side of the pickup I was in. You kind of get lost where you’re at and before you know it the fire is half a mile away from you,” Ord says. “It just moves so quick and fast”
Ord says it wasn’t until 1 in the morning on Friday that he and his crew returned to their station and were able to clean the dirt and ash from their eyes and faces. But, through the night, the fire departments were able to contain the fire up to close to 90%, according to the Webster County Deputy Sheriff.
Ord says it was a community effort all around.
“I’m extremely proud, proud of our department in Red Cloud for what we did, all the departments that come to help out. We even had some concrete trucks full of water that come over and fill the ditches to help slow this thing down. It was an unreal feeling just everyone coming together for the common good, people they don’t know,” he says.
Along with the local fire departments, Duffy says she owes thank you’s to school staff who watched some of her children, including a bus driver who drove her daughter to grandma’s house.
“There’s so many communities that came together to help that. . . I know I wont ever be able to thank everybody.”
As of Friday, local fire departments were still working to put out hot spots and prevent a rekindle of the flames. Miraculously, no homes were damaged and no injuries were reported. The county’s Deputy Sheriff says a very small number of cattle were lost to the fire.