Active weather continues on Region 23 Fire

Road closures have been lifted on Highway 385 and Highway 20 however; evacuation orders are still in place. An estimated 400 residences were evacuated Friday afternoon and evening in the areas in and around the West Ash Fires in Dawes County, Nebraska.

EVACUATIONS:  Fire and Law Enforcement Officials strive to return evacuees home as soon as possible; meanwhile the following evacuations continue mandatory, in the order they were implemented:

West of Highway 385, and south of Highway 20, Highway 385 to Hawthorne Road and all areas north of Buttermilk Road to Highway 20; including Country Club Road, Old County Club Road, and Goffena Road.  This also includes Deadhorse Road to Table Road and Flag Butte Road.

Residents living on Highway 385 between Chadron City Dams and Red Cloud Camp area to evacuate. The evacuation order covers both the east side and west side of Highway 385.

Evacuations near Crawford starts from the West Ash Road south on Highway 2 for five miles, across Breakneck Road, east to West Ash Creek Road; including West Ash Creek Road, Squaw Creek Road, Saw Log Road, Horseshoe Road, Breakneck Road, Dyer Road and Crow Butte Road.

Whitney was evacuated late Friday, and residents along Old Highway 20, between Whitney and Crawford were put on pre-evacuation notice.

Red Flag Warning until 9 p.m. are complicated by predicted south/southwest winds up to 30 mph, and make wind driven fire runs possible. Fuels in the fire area and around the region are extremely dry.
 
At last report the Region 23 Fire Complex has burned 73,822 acres and is approximately 40% contained. There are now over 450 people assigned to the incident including six helicopters on scene, 5 from the Nebraska National Guard.  A DC-10 heavy air tanker made three significant drops Friday evening, totaling 36,000 gallons of retardant on the West Ash Fire. The incident to date has had zero firefighter injuries.
 
More than 125 persons attending the Crawford Community meeting Friday evening strongly expressed gratitude and  appreciation to all firefighters for their work and dedication.  Fire officials and speakers providing information at the meeting included; Lt. Governor Sheehy, Adjunct General Lyons of Nebraska National Guard, Joe Lowe Incident Commander, and Dawes County Sheriff Dailey.  A second community meeting is scheduled this evening at Chadron State College in the Student Center starting at 7:30 p.m. Volunteer students will be on hand to help direct people to the correct location.
 
Fire officials and community leaders give special recognition to local volunteer fire fighters who have worked extremely long shifts under stressful weather and fire conditions. Jane Darnell, Nebraska National Forests & Grasslands said, “Last night when the fire crossed Highway 20 the local fire fighters formulated a plan to stop the fire before it got to Whitney, which significantly reduced potential damage.  Their help and local knowledge provides all other team members keen insight resulting in more efficient incident management plans.”

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