Lightning causes as many as six fires in Nebraska Panhandle

Firefighters in Dawes, Sioux, and Box Butte Counties were kept busy Tuesday night and Wednesday with a series of fires, mostly small and mostly caused by lightning.

Chadron Fire Chief Branden Martens says all the area fire departments were jumping fire-to-fire to help where and how they could – all while still taking care of their own fires.

At one time or another within about a 6-hour span Tuesday night, Chadron crews were fighting fires in every direction.

Three trucks went west to help on the Rock Fire under a mutual aid call from Crawford with other rigs going North to extinguish a small grass fire along Hwy 385 north of town.

Some went south, joining with the Hemingford, Gordon, and Rushville VFDs as well as U.S. Forest Service crews on the Pasture 16 Fire on the table area of southern Dawes County.

Still others responded to a pair of fires in steep terrain northeast of Chadron along with units from Rushville and Hay Springs. Work continued on those fires into last night. 

Chief Martens says the various departments also had a lot of great community help, assisting in getting to some of the fires and in making sure firefighters had plenty of water to combat the high temperatures as well as the heat of the fires and the exertion in battling them.

Firefighters fought at least six fires on Tuesday night alone, nearly all the result of lightning. The Great Plains Fire Information Center in Rapid City had limited information on a number of them.

The Windmill North CA Fire was reported at 5:45 in Sioux County about 10.5 miles west-southwest of Crawford. It was limited to 1-acre.

The call for the 16 Fire in Box Butte County between Hemingford and Crawford came in at 7:38. That fire burned 1.5-acres. 

A quick response by firefighters held a lightning-caused blaze yesterday morning in Wind Cave National Park to just a tenth of an acre.

The Cold Fire was reported at 7:31, contained at 10:40, and declared controlled at 12:20 after being battled by a combination of local, state, and federal resources.

There were two slightly larger fires to the north in Custer County. The Ridgetop Fire burned 1.2-acres  a mile southwest of Hermosa. It was reported at 11:17 and contained 2 hours later by another combination of local, state, and federal firefighters. 

The Rifle Fire was three miles southwest of Pringle. It was called in at 4:49 and held to 2.4 acres by federal, state, and local firefighters.