The 15,000-acre Bovee Fire continues to burn out of control in the Sandhills near Halsey, on and north of the Nebraska National Forest.
The fire began about 12:30 Sunday afternoon about three miles south of the Bessey Ranger District office, but was quickly spread by gusty winds through dry fuels about 15 miles to the north.
Halsey and surrounding areas were evacuated, but Incident Commander Brian Daunt says aggressive structure protection efforts by Forest Service and local firefighters successfully defended the community and the historic Bessey Nursery and CCC Campground.
Unfortunately, the lodge and camper cabins of the Nebraska 4H Camp were destroyed, along with the Scott Lookout Tower. Originally the fire was described as likely human-caused, but now the cause is listed as under investigation.
Daunt says more than 100 federal, state, and local firefighters are aggressively attacking the fire with 10 engines, a pair of Type 1 Hotshot handcrews, a bulldozer, and a fire supression module.
Air tankers were used yesterday to drop retardant and slow the fire’s spread, and will be available today if needed. Colorado’s Multimission Aircraft is scheduled to fly the fire this afternoon to provide detailed infrared mapping of the fire perimeter.
Daunt said this morning at 11:00 that “We had a good night last night and made a lot of progress on the east and north,” adding that “Today’s focus is going to be holding those lines, and constructing line to the west of the fire.”
Weather conditions today are expected to be much more favorable for firefighters, with highs in the 70s and lighter winds.
The Rocky Mountain Complex Incident Management Team led by Incident Commander Dan Dallas has been activated to take over from Daunt and is mobilizing en route to the incident.
Daunt says Nebraska Hwy 2 was closed for a time last night between Thedford and Halsey by heavy smoke and fire equipment, but has reopened.
For the safety of the public and firefighters, the Nebraska National Forest has closed the entire Bessey Ranger District to the public during the Bovee Fire.
Closure details are posted on the Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/nebraska/alerts-notices.