The Hackberry Wildfire, burning since Thursday about 20 miles east of Harrisburg in Banner and Morrill County, is now listed at 6,000-acres and 95% contained.
Operational control of the firefighting effort has returned to the Banner County VFD from the state’s Type 3 Incident Management team, which had taken over Friday following an emergency declaration by Gov Pete Ricketts that made more state and federal help available.
Type 3 Team Commander Ralph Moul says “firefighters worked tirelessly to control and contain the fire.” 20 volunteer fire departments with 120 fire engines have worked the Hackberry Fire along with state and federal crews.
Nebraska’s single engine air tanker or SEAT plane worked the fire along with 2 SEATs from South Dakota, a large tanker from Colorado, and what’s called a Multi-Mission Aircraft – essentially a reconnaissance plane outfitted with infrared and color sensors.
The Nebraska National Guard sent 12 soldiers and 3 helicopters, a pair of single-rotor Blackhawks and a twin-rotor Chinook. Together, those crews have flown 141 flights and dropped 141,405 gallons of water on the fire.
The governor’s order also allowed NEMA, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, to send a 5-member field team that helped local firefighting agencies.
NEMA Assistant Director Bryan Tuma says being able to send out a state Type 3 incident management team was important because federal resources are stretched thin by major wildfires in the western half of the country.
Ricketts says the overall response “has truly been a team effort from local firefighters, mutual aid firefighters, incident command, and volunteers” all drawing on assets from Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, and South Dakota.
Ricketts also says partnerships like these provide the leadership and resources needed to keep Nebraskans safe.”