Wildfires spread across western Nebraska leaving acres of land burned


Photo by Nebraska State Patrol

The wildfires in western Nebraska spread over 35,000 acres due to high winds and dry conditions.

The wildfires that began to spread in south-central Nebraska on Thursday, April 7th burning over 35,000 acres both in Gosper and Furnas County are now considered to be over 50% contained as of Friday, April 15th. The fires stretched 22 miles in light of high winds gusts over 60 miles per hour blowing a dead tress into a power line. As of now, eight houses and 48 outbuildings have been destroyed, and the only death accounted for is Elmwood Fire Chief Darren Krull. Fire and smoke created zero-visibility conditions resulting in Krull’s Ford Expedition crashing into a water truck on Highway 283, 8 miles north of Arapahoe.

Berlyn Schutz, junior at East, has many connections to the Elwood, Nebraska community including the family that has experienced the devastating fires firsthand. “My uncle has a good deal of land South of Elwood and nearby the Arapahoe town area, and I’m not sure the exact number but some of his lands were burned,” Schutz said. “His house wasn’t hit or anything, but the fire did get one of his gators (4-wheelers) that was left out.”

Unfortunately, not everyone living in the area was so lucky. The wildfire prompted the evacuation of Edison, a town with a population of 150, on Thursday, April 7th. In response, 50 agencies have helped fight the fire as well as two Nebraska National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. Governor Pete Rickets issued an emergency declaration on Friday, April 8th to make state resources available and support the communities affected. “With the wind carrying that fire so far, it’s been a devastating time for the community in western Nebraska, family, and friends included,” Schutz said. Much of Nebraska is currently at risk for fires given little to no precipitation in the upcoming forecast, dryland conditions, and high winds.