Progress made on Region 23 Fire Complex

Fire officials report progress on the Region 23 Fire Complex, now 25% contained with portions of the Douthit fire northwest of Crawford possibly moving into mop-up status.  Progress was also made on the West Ash fire southwest of Chadron to secure more lines to help with structure and property protection.  Fire crews plan to make the most of calm early morning conditions, anticipating mid-morning changes.

A Red Flag Fire Weather Warning is the primary challenge facing fire crews on the combined 68,689 acre Region 23 Complex, with today being the first of a possible three-day warning.  Forecasters anticipate a warm front moving into the area mid-morning that will shift winds to the south and bring higher temperatures with drier conditions.  The southerly winds may become strong with gusts up to 30 mph or more.

Safety will be the highest priority today, knowing conditions are changing.  Ed Wagonner, Operations Section Chief of the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team C stated,  “Today is critical for these fires because it’s the first of three possible Red Flag Days, and we really don’t know how the fires will respond to the winds.”  

Today’s goals for the Douthit fire are to continue to construct fire line and begin mopping up hot spots.  The goal for the West Ash fire is to continue putting in containment lines.

Key information:

Fire management asks residents and visitors to avoid fire areas and roadways.  Traffic parking along these roadways viewing fire activity is causing safety concerns for both the public and firefighters working suppression efforts.

Chadron State Park and Hudson-Meng Bison Kill Research and Visitor Center remains closed to the public.

The fire has not crossed Highway 385; however, some residents remain on pre-evacuation status for precautionary measures.

Dawes County Sheriff’s Office reports no additions or changes to evacuation status.

The Nebraska State Department of Roads reports that all limitations have been lifted from Highway 385.  Potential changes can be monitored  by calling 511,  or visit

Smoke remains a concern for portions of the area, and officials suggest that persons sensitive to smoke take precautionary measures.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  A community meeting will be held Friday evening (8/31/2012 at 7:30 pm) the Crawford Community Center: 1005 1st Street to talk about current fire conditions, evacuations, road closures and progress made on the fires.

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.
·         Areas between Sand Creek Road and Rim Rock Road.

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