Grant firefighters assist with wildfires
By Jan Rahn
Five individuals from Grant were among firefighters representing numerous departments trying to contain three wildfires in Keya Paha, Brown and Cherry counties that burned thousands of acres since being ignited by lightning July 20.
The fires were 100 percent contained as of Sunday night, according to firefighter spokeswoman Susan Ford who reported to the Associated Press.
Fire Chief Don Softley, Fire Captain Harlan Rahn, firefighters Bob Hochstein and Jessie Shireman assisted in attempting to extinguish the wildfires.Fire Marshal Fred Reichert of Grant was already on site investigating the north-central Nebraska wildfires when the crew of four left early afternoon July 24.
According to Softley, they were on duty for a 24-hour period straight, returning at about 5 p.m. Wednesday.
The three wildfires destroyed at least 14 homes and 17 outbuildings. Three injuries were reported.
The main fire, called the Fairfield Creek fire, burned more than 104 square miles in Keya Paha and Brown counties north and south of the Niobrara River and into part of Cherry County.
The Wentworth fire (which Grant firefighters were assigned to) covered nearly 10.6 squares miles. The Wentworth fire was southeast of the town of Springview and north of Bassett, along the north side of the Niobrara, according to Softley. The Hall fire burned four and a quarter square miles.
The fires, named for property owners whose land was being devoured in flames, were responsible for closure of part of the Niobrara River tourism area for several days. Helicopters were assisting by dipping buckets into the river to extinguish flames.
Because of the prolonged drought, the threat of wildfires remains high across the region and will remain high for at least several more weeks, according to firefighter spokeswoman Linda Hecker.