Wildfires Force Evacuations Across Parts of Iowa, Nebraska

by Taylor Cunningham
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Several wildfires in parts of Western Iowa and Eastern Nebraska forced evacuations and damaged homes over the weekend.

Ketv reported that the fires began small, but drought conditions and wind caused them to quickly spread out of control. Hundreds of firefighters responded to the incidents. And at least two were injured.

The most notable wildfires broke out in Northern Cuming county and Lancaster County in Nebraska and Western Harrison County and Northwest Montgomery County in Iowa. All the counties evacuated while crews responded.

Lancaster County suffered the worst damage due to winds of more than 50 mph. Luckily, unexpected rainfall helped firefighters contain the flames just after sunset on Sunday (Oct. 23).

All Wildfires Contained in Lancaster County, Nebraska, But Residents Still Under Warnings

Officials began issuing emergency warnings early Sunday afternoon after a ten-square-mile area south of Lincoln caught fire. Everyone living within the boundaries had to evacuate.

The evacuation orders then spread further by 4:00 pm. And by 4:30, two more areas were forced to flee.

“Emergency personnel is in the area,” the Lancaster County Sherrif Office tweeted. “We are doing our best to keep everyone safe but we need your help avoiding the area if you don’t need to be there.”

Displaced residents took refuge in Lincoln Southeast High School. Red Cross and Salvation Army workers deployed to help. And the Lancaster County Events Center took in affected livestock.

Fire crews worked with local farmers to contain the wildfire. Those with water sources gave workers access to their pivots while others parked farm equipment along roads to create fire lines. The Nebraska Forestry Service also responded with air support.

As of 8 pm, all fires were contained, according to the Lancaster Sherrif’s Office. However, crews were still in the area using drones to check for hot spots and assess the damage.

“Although things are getting more under control there’s still a lot of stuff with emergency responders needing to get to,’ posted the department on Twitter. “Our main area of interest now is essentially the area of Southwest 100th and West Panama road… The wind has shifted to the west and we basically have a line formed between Crete and Denton along West Panama road.”

The National Weather Service still has the area under a Red Flaw warning, which means wind and dry conditions can easily spread wildfires once again.

The Lincoln Lancaster County Emergency Management is continuing to update residents about threats via Twitter.