Bovee Fire at Nebraska National Forest destroys lookout tower, 4-H camp

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — The latest fire at the Nebraska National Forest has claimed 15,000 acres as of Monday.

The Bovee Fire ignited 3 miles south of Halsey sometime Sunday afternoon and spread 15 miles north, according to incident commander Brian Daunt.

Dry land and gusty winds fed the blaze, allowing it to destroy Nebraska 4-H Camp’s lodge and cabins, along with the Scott Lookout Tower. Firefighters were able to preserve the Bessey Nursery and Civilian Conservation Corps Campground.

Unfortunately, the fire has taken more than structures.

Region 26 Emergency Management said Mike Moody, the assistant chief of the Purdum Volunteer Fire Department, died in the line of duty on Sunday. Officials have said it was due to a medical emergency.

“Property is one thing, but human life is obviously the most important thing,” said Travis Mason-Bushman, a public information officer. “It’s just a reminder of the risks that firefighters take. It is challenging and can be a dangerous profession.”

As of Monday night, the fire was 0% contained, but Mason-Bushman says we might see that number increase soon.

“They got some good work done on the east side and the north side of the fire last night,” Mason-Bushman said. “If those hold out through the day, we’ll probably call them contained tomorrow.”

Over 100 firefighters have been dispatched to the fire, plus 10 engines and Colorado’s multimission aircraft. The aircraft is scheduled to fly over the fire Monday, providing responders with infrared mapping of the fire.

“We had a good night last night and made a lot of progress on the east and north,” Daunt said Monday in a press release. “Today’s focus is going to be holding those lines and constructing line to the west of the fire.”

Responders say Monday’s forecast was favorable for fighting the fire, calling for lighter winds and highs in the 70s.

Mason-Bushman said after the fire is extinguished, the area affected will be closed to visitors for at least several weeks.

Officials will have to be sure that there is no possibility of falling trees.  Mason-Bushman said they will have to switch gears and focus on rebuilding the environment for wildlife.

“That’s the next challenge,” he said. “Putting out the fire is half the job. Sometimes it’s not even half the job because it’ll be a long road to recovery.”

A portion of Highway 2 that passes just north of the forest was closed for several hours to make way for responders. The highway has since reopened.

In May, a wildfire burned more than 4,000 acres at the national forest.

Categories: Nebraska News, News