In the Latest Wildfire, 4,100 Acres Burn in the Nebraska National Forest near Halsey

May 20, 2022, 3 p.m. ·

A large plume of smoke billows from the Nebraska National Forest
A large plume of smoke billows from the Nebraska National Forest near Halsey, Nebraska. (Photo via Nebraska National Forests & Grasslands Facebook page)

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Another wildfire has burned an estimated 4,100 acres in the Nebraska National Forest as of Friday afternoon, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The ongoing blaze– dubbed the 201 East Fire – started on Tuesday in rural Thomas County. Fire officials in the area said high temperatures, strong winds and extreme dry conditions fueled the fire's spread to the east and south, and that's where it joined with the smaller Whitetail Fire, which started near a campground on the south side of the forest.

Additional fire crews arrived Thursday afternoon, said Julie Bain, a district ranger with the U.S. Forest Service. With calmer weather conditions on Friday, Bain said fire crews made progress containing the fire. Without that hard work from fire crews on Thursday afternoon, Bain told Facebook followers, conditions might have been different.

"They did such a good job putting it out that it didn't pick up yesterday when we had those 40 to 50 mph winds," Bain said. "So had they skimped on what we call mop up – and it could have flared up again and started another fire – we really would have had our hands full yesterday."

Bain and other fire officials ask that the public continues to avoid the area and not impede the fire fighting process. Fire officials have yet to offer an official containment number, which is not uncommon this early in a wildfire.

The Nebraska National Forest expands across more than 140,000 acres in the Sandhills just south and east of Halsey in Nebraska's Sandhills.