A briefing was held this morning at the Rushville Fire Hall to discuss the transition of control to the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team. Incident Commander Todd Richardson stated that they will be treating both the Nebraska and South Dakota portions of the Wellnitz Fire as one fire, with everyone working together. He recognized that many of the firefighters had been working hard for several days, and stressed that safety is their number one priority. The team will be integrating with the command that is already in place to make the transition as smooth as possible and make sure they are fully brought up to speed on the situation.
The incident management team stated that local crews did a very impressive job knocking down the fire Saturday, especially during the adverse conditions. Rushville Chief Jerry Kearns stated that, "Yesterday was something that very few people could do. We had some severe weather with hot, erratic winds, with the fire the day before that had brought this team in here. We had one minor period yesterday where we went into a defensive mode, and it was less than an hour overall that that went back into an offensive mode; and I don't think anyone here, along with these people coming here, would disagree, that it takes a heck of a lot of heart to put that kind of fire on the ground. I've put a lot of time in these last few hours to make sure you have the opportunity to finish this thing and put it home."
Governor Heineman was not able to be present at the briefing, but is still expected in Rushville this morning.