Nebraska National Forest Wildfire Gets Needed Rain, Now 80% Contained

May 23, 2022, 5 p.m. ·

Firefighters work along a road that runs through the burnt Nebraska National Forest
The "201 East Fire" burned 4,192 acres in rural Thomas County, according to the U.S. Forest Service. (Photo via Nebraska National Forests & Grasslands Facebook page)

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A wildfire that destroyed 4,192 acres of the Nebraska National Forest is 80% contained as of Monday evening, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

District ranger Julie Bain said the forest near Halsey is now open to the public in some capacity, but fire crews will continue to put out what’s left of the "201 East Fire." For Bain, Monday morning came with good news.

"It's been a nice steady drizzle all day," she said Monday afternoon "I haven't measured – haven't seen the rain gauge to know how much but definitely a good, long, wetting rain."

Bain estimates two-thirds of the area that's burned in rural Thomas County lies in the national forest's timber, while some fire spread to the nearby grasslands. Higher temperatures in the coming days leaves a possibility that hot spots take off again. However, Bain said she likes the direction the fire is headed.

"The forest will look different, and it's not all bad," Bain said. "Certain things will come back stronger, and certain things might be different for quite a long time."

Fire officials will likely keep certain parts of the forest – like the popular ATV trails – closed through the Memorial Day weekend.