Three firefighters were also injured and one person died in wildfires that erupted Friday. They were fueled with high winds and dry grass and started throughout central and western Nebraska, authorities stated on Saturday.
Wildfires have been reported in at least 12 of the state’s counties since Friday. According to the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), firefighters battled them in Frontier counties, Hayes Furnas Red Willow, Red Willow, Perkins, Hayes, Furnas and Furnas on Saturday.
The details of the victim were not immediately released by the agency. A spokeswoman stated that the injuries sustained to firefighters were not considered life-threatening.
A strong storm system that had been developing over the Dakotas since Friday brought “very strong winds” to Nebraska, and the same system drew dry air from the high plains of Colorado and New Mexico, Corey Mead, a forecaster with the National Weather Service, said late Saturday.
“Grasses are just beginning to turn green,” he said in an interview. “However, there’s a lot of tall grass that’s still dormant from the winter, so that tall grass is very dry and serves as fuel for fire ignition, whether it’s downed power lines due to the strong winds or even lightning associated with storms.”
Mr. Mead said Nebraska had seen “above normal” activity during the current fire season.
The state’s national guard deployed at least three helicopters and several trucks to help put out the fires, and the Wildland Incident Response Team sent specialists to several of them, the emergency management agency said on Saturday.
The authorities are coordinating a statewide response, but one constant challenge this season has been Nebraska’s heavy reliance on volunteer firefighters, Alyssa Sanders, a spokeswoman for the agency, said late Saturday.
“We’ve been fighting fires pretty consistently here for the past several months,” Ms. Sanders said. “Resources are scarce.”
The Tunnel Fire, which covers 21,000 acres near Flagstaff, Arizona, was 3 percent contained by Saturday morning, according the U.S. Forest Service. Investigations are underway into the cause of the fire that started on April 17.
The Tunnel fire is just one of many blazes that have erupted in the West over recent weeks. It was fueled by chaotic winds and years-long drought.
Source: NY Times