Crawford Fire Remains a Threat; Gering Blaze "Tamped down"
By Bill Kelly , Senior Producer/Reporter Nebraska Public Media
Sept. 17, 2021, 6:21 p.m. ·
People living around Crawford, Nebraska should stay alert Friday evening if they need to evacuate ahead of a stubborn rangeland fire driven by 25 mile-an-hour wind gusts.
While the fire remains well outside of town, Alyssa Sanders with the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) told Nebraska Public Media, “if it comes to that point, we will definitely make sure that everyone knows if we feel the safest measure would be to evacuate.”
Fire departments from western Nebraska scrambled throughout the day to control two large fires in Dawes and Scotts Bluff Counties. NEMA is helping coordinate efforts.
“Crews are working to strengthen fire lines after overcoming difficulties of shifting winds yesterday,” according to a statement released earlier in the day.
The largest of the two fires is southwest Crawford, about 25 miles from the South Dakota border. The fire covered over 1000 acres before noon on Friday.
Earlier, the Dawes County Sheriff assisted in evacuating some of the individual residences in the ranch land and state park areas. The National Weather Service predicts the gusty winds will continue through much of the night. Although they may dissipate on Saturday, higher temperatures will keep grasslands hot and dry.
Fire crews had better luck with the large range fire in Scotts Bluff County.
“Thankfully, the fire here in Scotts Bluff is, for the moment at the very least, very much in hand,” said NEMA incident coordinator Chris Schroeder.
He cautions the news “comes with the caveat of ever-changing winds and the ever-present possibility that things could spark up again.”
Schroder told Nebraska Public Media that fire crews will continue to keep “a very close eye on it and have it fairly significantly tamped down.”
Lightning ignited the blaze Thursday night.
Local volunteer departments and crews from Nebraska Game and Parks were stretched thin by the fast-moving fires in Scotts Bluff and Dawes County. They received air support from the Nebraska National Guard. Other Nebraska fire squads sent reinforcements from up to 300 miles away.
“We have had a great response from fire departments all across the state,” said Sanders. “People are really pitching in and offering to come out and help. So we are really grateful for them and appreciative.”