U. S. Forest Service reports two fires

Chadron – As of 8:30 a.m., Wednesday the U.S. Forest Service reports two fires burning, the Douthit Fire between Harrison and Crawford and approximately 10 miles north of Highway 20; and the West Ash Fire burning approximately 15 miles southeast of Crawford.  Both fires were started by lightning from an afternoon thunderstorm Tuesday, and are burning on public and privately owned lands. 

The Douthit Fire has burned 200-250 acres in timber, rough canyons and inaccessible areas.  Both the Harrison and Crawford Volunteer Fire Departments (VFDs) provided initial attack and remain on scene.   A Type 2 Team has been ordered.  Some structures, including three private residences are in the area, but there have been no evacuations.  Fire officials ask that everyone pay attention to changing conditions. 

The West Ash Fire has burned an estimated 150 acres in very rough, timber areas with steep, rugged canyons, and grass.  Structure protection is being provided for one private residence.  Resources on scene as of this morning include both Chadron and Crawford VFDs, a Soldier Creek hand crew from the Pine Ridge Job Corps, and several other resources, including the Black Hats Type 2 Initial Attack Crew from Rapid City. 

Today, fire crews have Red Flag weather conditions including high temperatures, predicted to reach 106 degrees,  low humidity of 6 – 12% and winds 10 -15 mph with gusts up to 30 mph.  More thunderstorm and lightning activity is expected.  

“We are very appreciative of all the volunteer fire departments.  We rely on their expertise and skills for initial attack,” said Jane Darnell, Forest Supervisor for the Nebraska National Forests & Grasslands. “They arrived immediately and have been working throughout the night. We’ve also had assistance from the Dawes County Sheriff Department, the Nebraska Fire Marshal and the Nebraska State Patrol.  We’ll issue updates as we get them,” she said.     

Labor Day and hunting seasons are just around the corner and the Forest Service would like to remind the public that the entire Nebraska National Forests & Grasslands are under Stage II Fire Restriction Orders due to extremely dry and hot conditions across the region and associated threat of wildland fires.  Smoke is readily visible from Highway 20.  Officials ask that travelers avoid the area, but if travel is necessary, use caution and watch for fire vehicles.  Fire officials ask that everyone pay attention to changing conditions.

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