Wildfire burns nearly 30,000 acres in Nebraska

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Multiple Nebraska fire crews are still responding to a wildfire in Gosper and Furnas counties that has already burned nearly 30,000 acres of land.

Gov. Pete Ricketts declared a state emergency on Friday to allow state assets and the Governor’s Emergency Fund to be used in fighting the fire.

The fire was still at 0% containment Friday night, according to a spokeswoman for the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, and had crossed the Republican River.

Investigators have determined that the cause of the fire was accidental: strong winds blowing a dead tree into a power line.

So far, about 40 fire departments from across the state responded to the fire that began around noon on Thursday, state officials say.

Four local emergency managers were deployed to the fire near Elwood to assist in command and control.

The American Red Cross has also arrived in Arapahoe to provide assistance.

Regional communications manager Emily Holley spoke about the support they’ve provided.

“The American Red Cross has currently set up in the Arapahoe Senior Center, and we’re opening cases for clients who’ve been affected by the fire, so far we’ve opened three cases,” she said. “We’ve also set up a rest-up center at Arapahoe High School for the first responders who are dealing with the fires.”

Two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crews, a 25-person Wildland Task Force crew,

and National Guard support vehicles were deployed on Friday.

The helicopters will start water drops Saturday morning.

So far, eight structures and 48 outbuildings have been damaged in the fire, state officials say.

Incident commander Brian Sisson said there are not many buildings in the fire’s current path, according to NEMA.

“Responders are establishing a perimeter, working hot spots and cooling the interior of the fire,” Sisson said.  “We are appreciative of all the efforts the firefighters are making to work this fire. We also need thank the community for their expressions of support.”

An evacuation order issued for Edison on Thursday night has been lifted, state officials say.

About 6:30 p.m. Friday, the Furnas County Sheriff’s Office said all highways were reopened but warned drivers to use caution in the Edison area.

“Firefighters are still working diligently to contain and put out the fire so be mindful of them,” the Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook.

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