How firefighters are battling Nebraska blazes

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Nebraska firefighters haven’t seen wildfires like this since 2012, when over a half-million acres burned.

Firefighters continued to battle flames Tuesday with an indirect attack, in which they start from the rear of the fire to pinch it off at the head.

That help keep crews safe.

“Going directly at the front of the fire, when you’re talking about vegetation that’s 2 and 3 feet tall, whether it’s grass or brush, and this kind of wind, you’re looking at flame lengths anywhere from 10 to 35 feet,” said Terry Krasko spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Team fighting the blaze in southwest Nebraska. “And you cannot put a firefighter in front of that flame head, you can’t do that.”

Most departments, including volunteer fire departments, do training specific to wildfires, such as the behavior of the fire and tactics to fight it.

But the most important training comes from time and experience.

“As you see certain events over time, you get better at your knowledge base,” Krasko said. “And there are times when you think you know what’s going to happen, and then Mother Nature will take another situation out of your box and move it to another direction, so it’s scientific, but it’s also very nature-based, and things can always change, almost in an instant.”

The way fire crews battle wildfires is different than fighting a house fire, from the trucks they use, down to the gear they wear.

“The wild-land firefighters, I call them the long-distance runners,” Krasko said. “They may have to cover miles and miles sometimes on foot, or sometimes they have to jump in a truck and try and get ahead of things if they have to go for a long, long distance.”

Fire officials encourage everyone to learn about how fires work and get some experience under your belt.

You never know when you can be of help.

“It can age you and allow you to make certain decisions that if you’re only a beginner, you wouldn’t have that in your education portfolio,” Krasko said.

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