A major wildfire burning since Thursday in Gosper and Furnas counties in southern Nebraska grew by about 5,000 acres over the weekend
It was listed Sunday on a Facebook posting by NEMA – the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency – as 35,000 acres and 50% contained. NEMA says the number of firefighters will drop over the coming days as containment of the fire progresses.
The blaze is blamed on high winds that blew a dead tree into a power line. Continued winds helped the fire balloon to 30,000 acres or about 47 square miles on Friday.
The flames destroyed at least 8 homes and 48 outbuildings, and 54-year old Elwood VFD Chief Darren Krull was killed in a traffic accident while responding to the blaze.
Krull was a passenger in an SUV driven by Phelps County Emergency Manager Justin Norris that hit a truck hauling water in an area where smoke had dropped visibility to near zero.
The truck driver was unhurt, but Norris, a cousin of Chadron public school teacher Linda Rischling, remains hospitalized following multiple surgeries and multiple fractures.