Firefighters from Custer County Assist with Hackberry Fire

Firefighters from Custer County Assist with Hackberry Fire
Wildfire burns thousands of acres in the Nebraska panhandle this past week. Photo: News Channel Nebraska reporter Elic Chisam

BANNER COUNTY–Thousands of acres have burned since the start of the Hackberry Fire in the Nebraska Panhandle. The fire started southeast of Harrisburg in Banner County around 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 5 according to the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency.

Various fire departments and agencies from across the state–as well as beyond state borders–have worked together all weekend to fight the fire, providing ground support and resources.

Hackberry Fire August 2021. Photo: Boelus Fire and Rescue

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts declared a state emergency in Banner County and officials requested 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, also assisted. In addition, the Nebraska single engine air tanker and two SEATs from South Dakota are working the fire.

Several central Nebraska fire departments have traveled to Banner County to provide assistance.

According to Custer County Emergency Management, fire departments from Anselmo, Ansley, Arnold, Broken Bow, Callaway, Merna, and Sargent left for the Hackberry Fire on Saturday night. Crews from St. Paul, Dannebrog, Farwell, Boelus, Wood River, Cairo, and Alda also provided support.

Broken Bow Fire Chief Jason Baum told KCNI/KBBN on Monday, August 9 that six firefighters from Broken Bow assisted with the fire along with a grass truck, providing help during the day and a night watch. He said three of the firefighters were on their way home as of Monday morning and the other three should return by Monday night.

Chief Jason Baum said it was great to be able to provide resources and assistance to another part of the state.

“It’s great for our state. Someday we might need it so you like to give as much help as you can. I hope we don’t need it but you never know,” Baum said.

Custer County Emergency Management also posted on their Facebook page a thank you to Broken Bow Public Schools for transporting firefighters in its bus and to the Custer County Salvation Army for providing water, Gatorade, and snacks to volunteers.

“A big thanks to the Broken Bow schools for transporting more firefighters to the Hackberry fire in western Nebraska. Also, a thank you to the Custer County Salvation Army for providing water, Gatorade, and granola bars to our many volunteers. Our community support is outstanding & we appreciate you!! ❤️”

KCNI/KBBN has reached out to Custer County Emergency Manager Mark Rempe for comment but has not heard back at this time.

The fire jumped containment lines multiple times due to wind and officials told News Channel Nebraska (NCN) the cause of the fire is likely due to a lightning strike.

As of Saturday, the Hackberry Wildfire burned an estimated 5,500 acres. The blaze began in Banner County on Thursday night.