Fire Fighting Efforts Continue at Bovee Fire near Halsey

Fire Fighting Efforts Continue at Bovee Fire near Halsey
Bovee Fire near Halsey. Photo by Joshua Carrizales via Facebook on Sunday, October 2, 2022.

HALSEY—Efforts continue to fight the 15,000 acre Bovee Fire that ignited on Sunday afternoon three miles south of Halsey and the Bessey Ranger District office. Travis Mason-Bushman of the U.S. Forest Service is working as the Public Information Officer for the fire.

KCNI/KBBN spoke with Mason-Bushman regarding the fire. As of Monday afternoon, he said the fire was 0% contained and has burned approximately 15,000 acres. The fire was first reported at 1:39 p.m. on Sunday, October 2, 2022. The exact cause is still under investigation.

More than 100 personnel from federal, state, and local agencies are working to combat the fire along with 10 engines, 2 Type 1 Hotshot handcrews, 1 bulldozer, and 1 fire suppression module.

KCNI/KBBN: Why has it been designated the Bovee Fire?

Mason-Bushman: Fires are generally named after geographic features of the area and are named by the first arriving firefighters to the scene by a process called incident command.

“The fire is 15,000 acres. At this time we have 0% containment. We have more than 100 firefighters actively working to suppress the fire. They made good progress last night on the east and north sides of the fire. Today the goal is to try and complete that box and get a box around the west side of the fire,” Mason-Bushman said.

KCNI/KBBN: You said 15,000 acres?

Mason-Bushman: “Correct. The fire moved approximately 15 miles north from where it started from yesterday afternoon. It started about 3 miles south of Halsey and moved 15 miles north by late last night. It got up and moved a lot very quickly.”

KCNI/KBBN: Can you confirm the cause of the fire?

Mason-Bushman: “It is a human-caused fire; we do know that there was no lightning in the area. Beyond that it is human caused; the specific cause is going to be under investigation still.”

KCNI/KBBN: What are the ways in which firefighters are trying to contain the fire?

Mason-Bushman: “You have the fire triangle: heat, fuel, oxygen. Take any one of those away and you don’t have a fire and so your goal is to break that triangle, break that chain reaction,” he continued. “When you have 15,000 acres of fire you know it takes a lot of water to get around there. So your B strategy is to take away the fuel. So what you’re literally doing is—we can call it cutting line.

That literally means cutting a path between where the fire is and where it wants to burn where there’s no fuel in it. You can do it with a dozer, you can do it with a mower, you can do that with a shovel and a Pulaski, and you can do that with fire retardants from an air tanker,” Mason-Bushman continued.

“You’re basically making it so the fire doesn’t have any more fuel to burn in front of it and when it runs out of fuel, it will burn itself out essentially. You’re taking away the fuel by any means necessary.”

KCNI/KBBN: Where are firefighters coming from to fight the fire?

Mason-Bushman: Firefighters coming from all over. Local departments from Purdum, Halsey, Thedford, and surrounding communities, state resources from Nebraska and South Dakota, Colorado, and the National Parks Service and Forest Service.

“Just like any sort of disaster, it doesn’t matter what color your uniform is, we’re all working together to get the job done and that’s to get this fire stopped as quick as we can,” Mason-Bushman said.

KCNI/KBBN: Can you confirm the loss of any buildings or structures?

Mason-Bushman: “I can unfortunately confirm that the Nebraska 4-H camp did suffer some structure loss: the main lodge and camper cabins burned,” he said. The Scott Lookout Tower was also lost due to the fire, he added.
They did have some successful structure protection and were able to save the camp staff housing and the historic Bessey nursery.

KCNI/KBBN: Why is this fire so much bigger than the fire in May?

Mason-Bushman: A lot of factors: This is a wind-driven fire moving it quickly, gusty winds pushed the fire north very quickly. Better weather conditions on Monday with lighter winds and cooler temperatures.

Region 26 Emergency Management confirmed the death of Purdum Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Mike Moody, age 59, who died in the line of duty after succumbing to a medical emergency.

Highway 2 is open but drivers are asked to avoid the area if possible and use caution. The Bessey Ranger District is closed to the public and will be for some time to come, Mason-Bushman said.