Briefly

Firefighters make progress on large wildfire south of Gering, Nebraska

By: - August 1, 2022 5:14 pm
wildfire

Smoke rises from a wildfire sparked in late July by lightning south of Gering, in Nebraska’s Panhandle. (Courtesy of Nebraska State Patrol)

Editor’s note: This report has been updated after a fire briefing Tuesday morning.

LINCOLN — Firefighters made progress Monday in battling a large wildfire south of Gering that has destroyed three homes, damaged seven others and spread across nearly 24 square miles.

“We’ve been able to get around it and hold it to its footprint today,” said Ben Bohall of the Nebraska Forest Service on Monday afternoon.  “We thought the wind would be more of an issue today, but it has not been.”

“We’re optimistic,” Bohall added. “We feel like we have a hold on it right now.”

An update Tuesday morning indicated that fire lines were still holding, and that firefighters had “a good night” Monday night.

Lightning strike

The Carter Canyon Fire was sparked by a lightning strike Saturday evening in a state wildlife area in the rugged Wildcat Hills south of Gering.

wildfire
Three homes were destroyed south of Gering by a wildfire sparked Saturday night by a lightning strike.
(Courtesy of Nebraska Forest Service)

Lightning strikes, and rising smoke, was seen by a medical helicopter flying in the area, Bohall said, which reported the fire about 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

Approximately 200 firefighters from 35 agencies and volunteer departments from as far as Wyoming and South Dakota were battling the blaze, he said, along with two Blackhawk helicopters, three large tanker planes and two single-engine tankers.

The fire, covering 15,591 acres, was listed as 30% contained as of Monday afternoon. Temperatures were reported near 100 degrees, with winds of 8 mph.

‘Crazy’ fire season started early

Lightning sparked blazes in both the Cedar Canyon State Wildlife Management Area south of Gering and the adjacent Carter Canyon. The fire destroyed three homes and damaged other buildings in the Cedar Canyon Estates area, where homeowners were evacuated. Livestock in the area were also moved.

Bohall said 2022 has been a “crazy” fire season, with a wildfire in southwest Nebraska, the Road 702 Fire, consuming more than 40,000 acres in April.

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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska state government for decades. He started his career reporting for the Omaha Sun and later, editing the Papillion Times group in suburban Omaha. He joined the Lincoln Journal-Star as a sports enterprise reporter, and then a roving reporter covering southeast Nebraska. In 1990, he was hired by the Omaha World-Herald as a legislative reporter. Later, for 15 years, he roamed the state covering all kinds of news and feature stories. In the past decade, he served as chief of the Lincoln Bureau and enterprise reporter. Paul has won awards for reporting from Great Plains Journalism, the Associated Press, Nebraska Newspaper Association and Suburban Newspapers of America. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation, a member of the Nebraska Hop Growers and a volunteer caretaker of Irvingdale Park in Lincoln.

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