Buffalo Creek Wildfire Continues To Burn in the Nebraska Panhandle

Nov. 17, 2021, 2:02 p.m. ·

A firefighter battles flames by spraying water from a hose on trees and grass in the darkness.
A firefighter battles flames from the Buffalo Creek Fire on the Buffalo Creek Wildlife Management Area. (Photo Courtesy of the Gering Fire Department Facebook page)

A wildfire that started in the panhandle last weekend continues to burn.

Earl Imler is the Preparedness/Operations Section manager at the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and says the roughly 2,500-2,600-acre Buffalo Creek wildfire continues to be a challenge to contain.

“A lot of people think of Nebraska as this flat plateau,” Imler said. “When you get into the northwest panhandle, it’s a whole different topography here. You have some very high bluffs, deep canyons, and very share areas like that, you know, very, very difficult inclines. It is difficult to get equipment and personnel in there.”

Imler said that, despite the difficulty, NEMA, the Nebraska National Guard and volunteer firefighters and others are coordinating well to keep life and property safe.

“No homes have been destroyed,” Imler said, “And we have not had any injuries or any reported injuries to us, so we have been very fortunate on this.”

Imler said volunteer firefighters in particular deserve praise for their organization.

“They have they have really come a very long way,” Imler said. “Over the last eight to 10 years we've learned a lot about how to fight wildfire out in the state and we've learned a lot about how to get into what's called "incident command," set up a structure, get operational periods going and fight the fire from a command structure way to do it, rather than just each individual fire department doing their own thing.”

He said emergency forces are confident they have a solid ring on the fire and are mainly focusing on hotspots.