Firefighters begin some ‘mop-up’ work on wildfire in Nebraska Panhandle

By: - August 2, 2022 8:06 pm

Firefighters are beginning some “mop-up” work at a wildfire on Tuesday south of Gering, Nebraska. (Courtesy of the Nebraska Forest Service)

LINCOLN — Firefighters began some “mop-up” work Tuesday at a wildfire south of Gering that charred more than 150,000 acres of Nebraska’s scenic Wildcat Hills, destroying three homes.

Ben Bohall of the Nebraska Forest Service said crews remain wary of shifting winds as they work to secure perimeter fire lines and put out interior hot spots.

At 5 p.m. Tuesday, the Carter Canyon Fire was reported 50% contained after consuming 15,630 acres of forest and grasslands.

The fire had spread only about 40 acres from Monday, and the weather forecast called for a slight chance of rain Tuesday night.

“While we welcome the rain, we remain vigilant over the possibility of higher winds and lightning,” Bohall said in a press release.

“Mop-up” duty involves securing the perimeter of the fire by extinguishing hot spots and felling burned trees to ensure the fire cannot reignite, he said.

The Nebraska National Guard deployed two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to help fight the blaze, which at one time pulled an estimated 200 firefighters from 35 fire departments in Nebraska’s Panhandle, Wyoming and South Dakota.

Local utilities continue to work to restore power to the fire area.

Fire erupted Saturday evening in more than one location after lightning strikes in the Wildcat Hills, which rise several hundred feet above the North Platte Valley.

Landowners impacted by the fire, Bohall said, should contact their local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service office or Farm Services Agency for information about assistance programs for burned trees and fences.

The Nebraska Cattlemen also announced Tuesday that the Cattlemen’s Disaster Relief Fund is now accepting applications until Sept. 30 for aid to landowners impacted by wildfires this year. For more information, call the Nebraska Cattlemen at (402) 475-2333 or email [email protected].


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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska state government and the state for decades. Previously with the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha Sun, he is a member of the Omaha Press Club's Hall of Fame. He grows hops, brews homemade beer, plays bass guitar and basically loves traveling and writing about the state. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation.