Firefighters prepare for Red Flag Warnings

More than 68,689 acres have burned in the Region 23 Complex fire in northwest Nebraska according to Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team C officials.

The complex consists of two fires -- the West Ash Fire near Chadron and the Douthit Fire near Crawford. The fires started by lightning, Aug. 28. Containment of the fires is estimated at 10 percent. West Ash accounts for 44,354 acres and the Douthit fire has burned 24,335 acres.

The fires are in rugged inaccessible terrain burning ponderosa pine and grass. Fire fighters focused on fire suppression today as well as evaluation of the fire perimeter. Red flag warning is expected to continue, possibly for the next three days. Fire fighters are working through the night preparing areas of the fire likely to be affected by potential high winds over the next several days.

Chadron State Park is still closed to the public. The fire has not crossed Highway 385.

Smoke forced additional road closures on Sand Creek, Cottonwood Road, and Highway 20 west of Fort Robinson.   Sections of Table Road near Willow Creek Church are closed due to increased fire activity in the area.
Area residents need to remember previous evacuations still in effect:

   West Ash Fire evacuations:

·        Table Road east to Highway 385
·        Country Club and Old Country Club Road east to Highway 385.
·        Deadhorse Road north to Highway 20.
 
   Pre-evacuation orders have been issued to residents east of Highway 385 as a precautionary measure.
   Pre-evacuation orders mean residents are requested to be ready to evacuate the
   area on short notice.

   Douthit Fire Evacuations include:
·        The Hudson Ming Bison Kill research and visitor center.
·        Areas between Sand Creek Road and Rim Rock Road.
   
As of 9 p.m. tonight, Highway 385 was open to one lane traffic with a pilot car from mile marker 160 to 167. For further information on state road closures call 511 or visit www.511.nebraska.gov. for county closures.
                                              
A community meeting will be held Friday evening (9/1/2012 at 7:30) the Crawford Community Center: 1005 1st Street to talk about current fire conditions, evacuations, road closures and progress made on the fires.
 
Participating agencies include: Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, US Forest Service, Nebraska National Guard, Nebraska Forest Service, local volunteer fire departments, Dawes and Sioux County Sheriff, Nebraska State Patrol and local municipalities.

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