Custer County Chief: Shop Equipment Shed Lost In Friday Afternoon Fire

A Friday (Feb. 25, 2022) fire about three miles south of Oconto was stopped by firefighters about 75 yards from the house of 90-year-old Melvin Achterberg.

Achterberg was alone in the house sometimes after 2 p.m. when he saw flames and smoke to the west of his house. He called Eggleston Oil Service Station in Oconto and they called 911 and sent someone to be with Achterberg.

Oconto Fire and Rescue responded to the call and called for mutual aid. Grass rigs and tankers from several neighboring fire districts were observed at the scene, including Callaway, Broken Bow, Eddyville, Cozad, Miller and Lexington. It was reported that an airplane dropped five loads of water on the house and trees near the house.

Around 5 p.m., Achterberg watched from his pickup truck as firefighters continued to fight fires in an area of equipment and tires. Trees and smoke obscured the view to the house and he asked people who had been near the house, “Is my house alright?” He was assured it was OK and was shown pictures that showed the house undamaged by fire. A line of tree just west of the house, about 75 yards, however, were blackened and smoking, with burned branches falling to the ground.

An official cause of the blaze is not reported at this time however, it’s speculated that it started on a neighboring property. The number of acres burned was not available.

At least one building, a shop equipment shed, was lost. Achterberg said he also lost equipment and irrigation pipe.

It was said that fire crews would need to remain on scene through the night to make sure hotspots did not flare up.