Wildfire breaks out in Nebraska Panhandle

BANNER COUNTY - No injuries have been reported and no houses are believed to be in danger where a large wildfire burned thousands of acres in the Nebraska Panhandle.

The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency says the fire started southeast of Harrisburg around 7 p.m. Thursday and has burned an estimated 2,500 acres. The fire has jumped containment lines multiple times. The cause of the fire has not been released, but officials at the scene tell News Channel Nebraska it started after a lightning strike.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has declared a state emergency in Banner County. Officials have requested a the deployment of a large airtanker out of Colorado to assist with control efforts. Two Nebraska Army National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, equipped with 780-gallon water buckets, are en route. In addition, the Nebraska single engine air tanker and two SEATs from South Dakota are working the fire.

Region 22 Emergency Management Agency Director, Tim Newman, reports various fire departments and agencies are working together to fight the fire, providing ground support and resources. 

Bob Hilpert, with the Potter-Dix Volunteer Fire Department, says the received the emergency call at 7:51 p.m. It took PVFD an hour to get to the scene of the fire. Hilpert says the wind has picked up and is playing havoc on attempts to contain the blaze.

Fire weather is expected to remain elevated as dry conditions continue into the weekend. A Red Flag Warning continues for Banner, Morrill, Cheyenne, Scotts Bluff and Kimbal counties until 8 p.m. Friday. 

Video shows a compilation of clips taken by NCN reporter Elic Chisam near Banner/Morrill County line. 

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