‘Likely Human-Caused’ Nebraska Wildfire Quickly Scorches Over 15,000 Acres, Forces Evacuations

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

Hurricanes, including Ian and Fiona, recently devastated regions along the east coast, but farther west, wildfires continue to ravage much of the United States. On Sunday, a wildfire that officials believe is “likely human-caused” broke out in Nebraska. By Monday, the blaze had already scorched more than 15,000 acres. The fire has also forced multiple evacuations.

According to TODAY, officials named the blaze the Bovee Fire, revealing it broke out Sunday afternoon. Officials state it ignited in the Bessey Ranger District of the Nebraska National Forest. As of now, more than 100 firefighters have been deployed to battle the fast-burning blaze. However, footage shows massive clouds of billowing smoke filling the skies above the national forest. The scene reveals just how hot the current wildfire actually is.

According to the Nebraska National Forest’s public information officer Travis Mason-Bushman, the crews fighting the fire are hoping to stop the blaze from spreading on its west side after gaining further control on its eastern and northern fronts overnight. Mason-Bushman further revealed that by 7:30 p.m. Sunday, the blaze quickly pushed 15 miles north.

Firefighters assigned to the Nebraska wildfire battled the blaze through Sunday night. Mason-Bushman assured locals, “We do have firefighters continuing the aggressive attack.” Temperatures for Monday are forecasted to be in the 70s, and with a combination of light wind, firefighters are expecting favorable conditions to battle the blaze.

Nebraska Wildfire Causes Major Devastation at Local 4-H Camp

While Nebraska firefighters have been battling the two-day-old fire relentlessly, the blaze has already managed to decimate part of a local 4-H camp. Per the outlet, the fire burned a lodge and several cabins in which people had been staying. Fortunately, though, everyone at the camp managed to safely evacuate.

In another stroke of luck, firefighters were able to save the century-plus old Charles E. Bessey Tree Nursery. This is especially noteworthy as Mason-Bushman said the nursery “grows trees to reforest after fires like this one.”

Per the outlet, the Charles E. Bessey Tree Nursery is home to 1.5 million seedlings and “has a long-standing reputation for producing top-quality planting stock due to its deep sandy soils, abundant water and relatively long growing season.”

For now, the Bovee Fire remains under investigation. However, as stated, officials believe there was “some human influence” as there were no recorded lightning strikes in the area. Normally, lightning strikes are the most common cause of naturally occurring wildfires.

However, because it’s thought that the most recent Nebraska wildfire was human-caused, the public information officer explained, “We treat these like a crime scene or like an aircraft accident — you’re going to have trained investigators looking at the site where the fire started, gathering all the evidence before we state definitively exactly what happened.”