Lancaster County farmers head home after ‘chaotic’ wildfires

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Smoke clouds became rain clouds Monday morning, a day after Lancaster County farmers fled from flames.

Some barns stood silent, waiting for any sign of inhabitants to return home after the wildfires.

Around 10 a.m. on Monday, the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office sent out word that it was OK for farmers to head back.

Working through the changing conditions Sunday night and Monday, many had to adapt their schedules for feeding their livestock while waiting to hear from officials.

Sidney Froistad “woke up super early, around 6 a.m.,” to feed and water her horses at the Lancaster Event Center, one of the locations that offered farm animals a place to stay.

She also had to attend a college class.

“So, it’s just been kind of a long morning, but I’m really happy with how it’s going now,” Froistad said.

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Evacuees said many ranchers they knew had friends and families to escape to.

Farmers were forced to make split-second decisions as the Sheriff’s Office enforced evacuations.

“It’s been pretty chaotic, actually,” said Brooke Imm, another farm evacuee.

She was grocery shopping on Sunday when she decided to go check on the farm.

“So kind of dropped everything,” she said. “When we drove up to the barn, we could see all the smoke coming over, and it was making everything really hazy. That made us really uneasy, and then you could tell that the horses were getting pretty amped from smelling all the smoke.”

The fairgrounds sheltered 70 head of livestock Sunday night, including more than 25 horses.

But by Monday morning, only a handful were left.

The sight of rain clouds was a welcome one.

“It is, like, a breath of fresh air,” Froistad said. “I mean, I am so happy that we got the rain, and it started raining, I think south of us overnight, too, so it really helps I think with the firefighters and the farmers to get the fire under control.”

Countless volunteers were needed to make everything go as smoothly as possible.

It was evident from those who showed up to offer anything from food to a warm home that the Lincoln community is ready to step up at a moment’s notice.

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