(Neb.)-Ash Creek Fire Gets Some Welcome Relief After Growth On Tuesday
(CHADRON/CRAWFORD)-Fire crews are continuing their battle with the Ash Creek Fire southwest of Chadron. Overnight rain and cooler temperatures Wednesday morning gave crews some welcome relief, including getting a line around Tuesday’s late afternoon escape to the northeast. Wednesday’s plans include efforts to secure and hold the line while engaging newly arrived resources. Fire officials anticipate transition to a Type 2 Incident Management Team by mid-afternoon.
Nebraska National Forests & Grasslands deputy forest supervisor Steve Lenzo says, “We plan to take advantage of the lower temps and higher humidity today to make progress on containment of this fire. The extended forecast calls for continued high temperatures and lower humidity, and we are not out of the woods yet. While bringing new resources to the Ash Creek Fire today, safety remains our priority while we work to secure lines and containment.”
The Ash Creek Fire was reported Sunday morning and measures approximately 1,000 acres. On Wednesday, officials also plan to take accurate GPS measures to confirm the fire’s size.
Hot, dry weather and stronger western winds on Tuesday helped the fire grow to approximately 1,000 acres and 20 percent containment, compared to Tuesday morning’s 300 acres and 25 percent containment. Fire crews’ efforts have also hindered by steep ravines and rugged terrain.
Dawes County Commissioner Stacy Swinney was at the fire briefing Wednesday morning. He said the incident commander took time to recognize and appreciate the huge effort put forth by local firefighters, residents, and county workers to help widen fire lines and gain control of the fire on the northeast side as it jumped fire lines Tuesday afternoon. Swinney says it was a combined effort that got the fire slowed down. County personnel were busy digging fire lines while local landowners and neighbors showed up with chainsaws and spray rigs to join in the fight. Swinney said fire crews and their rigs from 8-10 different places also played a crucial role in the effort as did the air support. He said it was good to see a high level of cooperation taking place between the forest service and local crews, neighbors, and friends.
Lenzo says that at this time there have been no evacuations or structures lost. There was one injury Tuesday when an ATV turned over, and the rider broke their collarbone.
The fire started from a Saturday late night lightning storm in the Pine Ridge National Recreation Area.
Lenzo says there has been have excellent support from local volunteer Fire Departments, air resources, dozers and crews. There have also been three helicopters, four hot shot crews, and several dozers on site.
A pre-evacuation notice is still in effect for those living along Bethel Loop Road south to East Ash Creek Road, then along East Ash Creek Road to Table Road, and then along Table Road to Highland Cemetery, but no mandatory evacuations are in effect at this time. Deputies are in the area and will do a quick evacuation notification as needed if fire danger is eminent. Lenzo cautions that “Conditions can change and everyone living in those areas need to remain alert.”
The entire Nebraska National Forests & Grasslands remains under Stage II Fire Restriction Orders, including no fire, campfire or grills; no smoking, unless in a building, trailer or closed vehicle; no welding or open flames; and no use of internal combustion engines, including chainsaws, generators, or ATVs, without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order. Visitors are also not allowed to possess or use motor vehicles off established roads, motorized trails or established parking areas.
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