Nebraska Wildfire Forced Evacuations, Donations Sought
A grass fire in southwest Nebraska near Guide Rock threatened the lives of thousands of livestock and forced many of the town’s 300 residents out of their homes Thursday afternoon, Jan. 14,2021.
The fire was whipped with strong winds of 50 to 60 miles per hour and burned a swath approximately 11 miles long and a mile wide. The state is experiencing an exceptionally dry winter and the National Drought Monitor says for the first time in eight years 100% of Nebraska is experiencing a drought.
“It was unbelievable,” Guide Rock resident Katelyn Duffy told KLKN-TV in Lincoln, Neb. “It just kept going. The wind was blowing 60 in your face reminding you that this was not done. I got north and then I realized the situation was way worse than what I had ever anticipated and realized I need to start moving my cows south before that fire got to us.”
Duffy and other community members scrambled to lay down fencing and open pens to save their livestock and allow them to get away from the flames on their own. Duffy’s husband, a volunteer firefighter for Guide Rock, called her several times telling her to leave the home.
Ultimately, Duffy’s home was saved as nearly 20 nearby fire departments went to Guide Rock to fight the fire. Through the night, the fire departments were able to contain the fire by nearly 90%, according to the Webster County Deputy Sheriff. The sheriff’s office also said the number of cattle lost was relatively small.
According to the Nebraska Cattlemen, ranchers lost approximately 26 miles of fence in addition to the loss of hay and grazing. The organization has identified the following for those wishing to donate hay, feed, supplies or money:
- Hay/Feed – Call Scott Bonifas at (402) 984-6223 and he will help coordinate where to unload.
- Fence Supplies – Take to Ely Grain at Guide Rock (402) 257-2125
- Cash Donations to be dispersed to those in need – Send to:
South Central Cattlemen
c/o Kelsey Herz
2419 Hwy 4, Lawrence, NE 68957
Or give via PayPal to South Central Cattlemen Association (100% of deposited donations will be dispersed.)
If you wish to have your relief efforts shared with Nebraska Cattlemen members and they aren't included above, please email email@example.com.