Hackberry Fire Update: High winds help blaze spread, more help inbound

BANNER COUNTY, Neb. — Crews continue to battle a wildfire that began in Banner County Thursday night. 

The blaze, named the Hackberry Fire, broke containment lines Friday night due to heavy winds in the area, according to Region 22 Emergency Manager Tim Newman. The fire was near the Morrill/Banner County line Friday. Overnight wind gusts helped the fire make a four mile run to the east, sending fire fighters into defensive mode. 

Newman tells News Channel Nebraska the blaze threatened the Schuler Ranch. No loss of buildings has been reported at this time. Cattle were also in danger at one point, but ranchers were able to herd them out of harms way.

Winds continue to be an issue Saturday morning, with winds blowing out of the west-northwest at over 20 miles-per-hour with gusts above 30 mph. 

Assistance is on the way from more departments to battle the flames that have kept several panhandle-based crews busy. Fire departments from Torrington and Yoder in eastern Wyoming have both reported they are sending crews. The National Guard Helicopters deployed Friday to the fire are expected to start working the fire Saturday morning. Multiple other air teams have been assisting since Friday.

As a result of the fire, air quality is an issue across much of the area. Air quality is listed as unhealthy for sensitive groups or unhealthy for all groups in much of the southwestern panhandle. 

Governor Pete Ricketts declared a state of emergency for Banner County Friday, allowing state and federal resources to be directed toward the fire. 

Photo above shows the Hackberry Fire on Friday, Aug 6. Photo taken facing East on County Road 65 in Banner County east of Hackberry Road.