FIRE UPDATE: Post Fire 100% Contained At 5,544 Acres; Mop-up And Monitoring To Continue

5:00 PM TUESDAY

      The Post Fire south of Crawford has been declared 100% contained at 5,444-acres, having shown no growth since Saturday night.  

     U-S Forest Service Pine Ridge District Ranger Tim Buskirk says a local Type-4 Incident Management Team still has 3 crews and 10 engines on the scene continuing mop-up, strengthening containment lines, and monitoring the fire. 

     Buskirk says a skeleton crew will spend the next few days keeping an eye on the fire, which will continue to produce small, isolated columns of smoke as pockets of fuel inside the fire lines ignite. Smoke could continue until more precipitation arrives. 

    The Post Fire began last Monday and was thought to be out at a tenth of an acre, but it was reignited by high winds last Thursday and grew from about 500 acres to about 5,000-acres on Friday.

     More than 300 personnel responded from local, state, and federal agencies in 7 different states – Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado, Kansas, Utah, and Oregon – with air support from the Nebraska National Guard, Civil Air Patrol, and Nebraska’s contracted single-engine air tanker whose home base is Chadron.

      Much of the burned area is land managed by the Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands with Buskirk saying the Forest Service and other landowners are grateful to all those who worked the fire. 

      He calls it “a privilege to work with the men and women who put their skills to work and their lives at risk to protect fellow Nebraskans and the community. 

      Crawford Fire Chief Brian Prosser sends out sincerest thanks to Crawford and the surrounding communities for their “overwhelming” support – whether by food or monetary donations, helping feed firefighters, or keeping facilities clean.

9:00 PM MONDAY

     Command of the Post Fire south of Crawford is back in local hands, all evacuation notices have been lifted, and more personnel and equipment are headed home – even though it’s still listed at just 65% contained.

     The state Type 3 Incident Management Assistance Team that took command on Friday gave way last night at 7:00 to a local Type 4 Team led by Incident Commander Tyler Hunter and Crawford Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brian Prosser. 

       Prosser says he, his department, the other initial responding agencies, and the Crawford community “would like to thank the NEMA Team for their quick deployment to northwest Nebraska and diligent efforts in managing the Post Fire.” 

     As of 7:00 Monday night, the fire was still at 5,444 acres – virtually unchanged since Saturday night – but cooler temperatures and rain since Sunday evening have helped firefighters increase containment.

      Over 160 personnel remain on the scene, but some are headed home along with the SEAT plane and National Guard helicopters that battled the blaze.

11:00 AM MONDAY

     The Post Fire south of Crawford is still listed at just 50% contained, but conditions are looking so positive that fire command over the next 24 hours will transition back from the state level Type 3 Incident Management Team to a Type 4 local team. 

    There’s been no formal update since Incident Commander Mike Kelte said at 8:00 Sunday night that the fire was still estimated at 5,544 with essentially full containment on the north, south and east sides and zero containment on the west and southwest.

      Crews on Sunday were able to use a small burnout to strengthen lines on the northeast while the size estimate remained the same as Sat night despite hot temperatures, low relative humidity, and winds that gusted up to 40 mph. 

     All pre-evacuation notices have been lifted, but the recommended voluntary evacuation south of 4-Mile Road remains in effect.

       Updates on personnel have listed only the number on duty on that specific shift, but adding shifts together indicated over 350 total as of Sunday morning. There were 162 described as on scene at 8:00 this morning. 

       Fire officials did not say how many of the 6 aircraft were still working the fire this morning. Those 6 included 4 Nebraska National Guard helicopters, the state’s contracted single-engine air tanker, and one multi-mission attack fixed-wing aircraft. 

       The volunteer fire departments battling the Post Fire may be eligible for at least partial reimbursement for some of their expenses, but that process can take months so monetary donations toward those costs are welcome.

       Donations can be made by credit card at Saddlerock One Stop, D&S Market, or the Pine Ridge Service Center while cash or checks can be mailed to the Crawford Volunteer Fire Department, 3450 Hwy 20, Crawford, NE, 69339.

10:00 PM SUNDAY

     The Post Fire south of Crawford is now listed at 50% contained. Containment is described as a 100-to-200 foot strip of cool, burned area on the inside of fire lines.

       Incident Commander Mike Kelte said at 8:00 Sunday night there was essentially full containment on the north, south and east sides with zero containment on the west and southwest sides.

       Kelte said crews were able to use a small burnout to strengthen lines on the northeast and that the fire did not grow despite hot temperatures, relative humidity only in the mid-teens, and winds that gusted up to 40 mph. 

        The Post Fire, which began Thursday afternoon, has been listed at 5,544 acres since Saturday night. 

     The pre-evacuation notice issued for Crawford Friday has been lifted, but the recommended voluntary evacuation south of 4-Mile Road remains in effect with residents between Hwy 20 and 4-Mile Road told to remain vigilant and alert.

       The updates from the Nebraska Type 3 Incident Management Assistance Team in charge of the effort list only the number of personnel for that shift, but as of Sunday afternoon there were apparently at least 350 individuals involved.

        Kelte said ground crews are still aided by 6 aircraft – 4 Nebraska National Guard helicopters, Nebraska’s single-engine air tanker, and one multi-mission attacked fixed-wing aircraft. 

       The volunteer fire departments battling the Post Fire may be eligible for at least partial reimbursement for some of their expenses, but that process can take months so monetary donations toward those costs are welcome.

       Donations can be made by credit card at Saddlerock One Stop, D&S Market, or the Pine Ridge Service Center while cash or checks can be mailed to the Crawford Volunteer Fire Department, 3450 Hwy 20, Crawford, NE, 69339.

1:00 PM SUNDAY

     The Post Fire south of Crawford was listed as 15% contained Sunday morning at 7:00, but it did not grow overnight after expanding only about 550 acres on Saturday and remains at 5,544-acres. 

     The pre-evacuation notice issued for Crawford late Friday afternoon has been lifted, but the recommended voluntary evacuation south of 4-Mile Road remains in effect.

      Residents between Hwy 20 and 4-Mile Road should remain vigilant and alert to changing conditions.

       The updates from the Nebraska Type 3 Incident Management Assistance Team in charge of the effort lists only the number of personnel for that shift, but with 75 Sat night and 277 Sunday morning, the total is apparently over 350.

     Incident Commander Mike Kelte says ground crews are aided by 6 aircraft – 4 Nebraska National Guard helicopters, Nebraska’s single-engine air tanker, and one multi-mission attack fixed-wing aircraft.    

   Kelte says fire managers were expecting uncooperative on Sunday with warm temperatures, low relative humidity in the middle teens, and wind gusts up to 30 mph. 

      As a result, increased fire engine traffic was expected with drivers in the Crawford area asked to use extra caution. 

       The volunteer fire departments battling the Post Fire may be eligible for at least partial reimbursement for some of their expenses, but that process can take months so monetary donations toward those costs are welcome.

    Donations can be made by credit card at Saddlerock One Stop, D&S Market, or the Pine Ridge Service Center while cash or checks can be mailed to the Crawford Volunteer Fire Department, 3450 Hwy 20, Crawford, NE, 69339.

8:00 PM Saturday

      The Post Fire, which began early Thursday afternoon about 5 miles south of Crawford, grew only about 550 acres Saturday despite strong winds that lasted well into the evening. 

       The 8:00 PM update put the fire at 5,544 acres but still at zero-percent contained despite control lines along much of the perimeter. 

        The number of personnel dropped from 126 individuals from 50 organizations to 75 from 23 organizations. Single-engine air tankers, 4 helicopters, and a multi-mission plane focused on mapping apparently remain in use.

     The update made no reference to the status either Thursday’s voluntary evacuations or the pre-evacuation notice for Crawford issued Friday as a precaution. 

       Fire officials issued a statement thanking everyone who continues to support the response to the Post Fire with the Crawford-area community showing an overwhelming amount of love and support to the firefighters and other volunteers. 

         STATEMENT

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who continues to support us in our response to the Post Fire. In a time of unease and uncertainty, the Crawford community and those surrounding have shown an overwhelming amount of love and support to our volunteers. 

Thank you to those who donated food, water, money, equipment and personal goods. Thank you to those who volunteered their time to cook for us, pack our lunches, and keep the fire station running. 

Thank you to the friends and families who support our volunteers from home, allowing them to be here and assist with the fight.

 Most of all, thank you to the firefighters, from all over the state who never fail to show up in times of need. We are so fortunate and blessed to work in such a caring and compassionate community. 

Anyone wishing to make a donation can contact the following businesses with credit card information: 1. Saddlerock One Stop (Gas Station) 2. D&S Market (Grocery) 3. Pine Ridge Service Center Inc (Equipment Maintenance) 

Cash or checks can be mailed to Crawford Volunteer Fire Department at 3450 Hwy 20, Crawford, Nebraska, 69339.

4:00 PM SATURDAY

      The Post Fire, which began early Thursday afternoon about 5 miles south of Crawford, is still listed as zero-percent contained, but the control lines established Friday held overnight despite winds gusting up to 40 mph. 

       As a result, the fire is still listed at just under 5,000 acres and south of Four Mile Road. It is not actively moving toward Crawford, where a pre-evacuation notice was issued Friday as a precaution. 

     Incident Commander Matt Holce says more personnel and equipment arrived Friday evening and Saturday morning, bringing the total to 126 individuals from 50 different organizations. There are still 2 single-engine air tankers, 2 heavy Type-1 helicopters, and a pair of  type-3 helicopters along with a multi-mission plane for mapping. 

Photo – Tom Jones

       Holce says additional resources are en route as fire managers have been dealing with increased fire activity because of temperatures that reached into the 90s, low relative humidity, and winds gusting to 30 mph. 

      The area west of Hwy 71 to Deadman Road between Four Mile Road and Belmont Road remains under the strong but voluntary evacuation notice issued Thursday. 

      The pre-evacuation notice for the southern part of Crawford, Hwy 20 to Paddock Street, also remains in effect as a precaution. Residents should continue to monitor KCSR and KBPY for any updates

      Should conditions change, law enforcement would issue a mandatory evacuation order with the local sirens sounding and phone alerts via Code Red. 

       Crawford VFD Fire Chief Brian Prosser says“All local Crawford events will continue throughout the weekend,” but extra caution is advised for Hwy 20 between Crawford and Fort Robinson State Park. 

      . Air quality information is available at fire.airnow.gov, a site that also provides tips for people with asthma, allergies, and any special needs.

8:00 PM FRIDAY

      The Post Fire, which began early Thursday afternoon about 5 miles south of Crawford, nearly quintupled in size on Friday – growing from 1,000 acres at 11:00 AM to 4,992 acres at 7:00 PM.

It remains totally uncontained.

Photo – Tom Jones

      Much of the expansion was to the north, leading fire and Crawford city officials to take the proactive step of issuing a pre-evacuation notice.

Mayor Connie Shell emphasizes there is no threat to the city at this time and she’s confident there won’t be, but alerting Crawford residents to the possibility of evacuation is the prudent choice.

     Mayor Shell said late Friday afternoon that the early notice of a potential evacuation gives people the time to carefully gather up personal items, financial records, and other things they want to preserve so they can be moved out quickly if the need arises. 

      Dawes County Sheriff’s deputies and Chadron police officers went door-to-door from Hwy 20 to Paddock Street hand-delivering the pre-evacuation notice. Sheriff Karl Dailey, who requested the Chadron officers, says Chadron Police Chief Rick Hickstein and his entire department have been of great assistance.

      Mayor Shell said that if an evacuation order is issued, Crawford’s warning sirens will sound non-stop and telephone alerts will be sent out over Code Red. School buses and the Chadron and Crawford Hand-Buses are on standby for an evacuation.

Photo – Tom Jones

    The Post Fire originally started Monday and was thought extinguished at a tenth of an acre, but was re-ignited by strong, shifting winds. A state level Type-3 Incident Management Team officially took command of the firefighting effort Friday at 7:00 AM.

     Incident Commander Matt Holce says 102 individuals from 49 different agencies have been assisting with suppression efforts.

Helicopters and single-engine air tankers have made water and retardant drops with more aircraft and ground personnel scheduled to arrive Saturday.

    Holce says burnout operations Friday were successful in slowing the spread of the fire. About 30 homes east of Hwy 71 between Four Mile Road and West Belmont Road remain under a voluntary evacuation

2:00 PM Fire official say they appreciated all the donations of water and other items, but have enough perishables for the weekend.

11:30 AM FRIDAY

     The wildfire that began early yesterday afternoon about 5 miles south of Crawford has grown to 1,000 acres and remains at zero-percent uncontained.

There’s no confirmation of social media reports that one house has been destroyed.

      The Post Fire originally started Monday and was thought out at a tenth of an acre, but was re-ignited yesterday by strong, shifting winds

     A state level Type-3 Incident Management Team officially took command of the firefighting effort this morning at 7:00 with strike teams coming in from as far away as Grand Island, Ainsworth, McCook, and O’Neil. 

Photo – Tom Jones

        State and federal crews joined units from local fire departments in the initial response, but those from Scotts Bluff and Banner Counties were recalled when the Vista Trend Fire broke out about 4:30 in the Wildcat Hills southwest of Gering.

The State Emergency Operations Center is coordinating resources between the two fires.

      Incident Commander Matt Holce (HOLE-see) says 102 individuals from 49 different agencies have been assisting with suppression efforts. Helicopters and single-engine air tankers continue to make water and retardant drops as hand crews build firelines.

     About 30 homes west of Hwy 71 between Four Mile Road and West Belmont Road remain under a voluntary evacuation that saw Dawes County Sheriff’s deputies going door-to-door yesterday afternoon to spread the word

     The Nebraska Department of Transportation closed Hwy 71 a little before 9:00 between Four Mile Road in Dawes County and Scotts Bluff County Road 8900 because of smoke and heavy fire traffic, but the highway reopened this morning. 

      Donated snacks and bottled water for the firefighters can be dropped off at the Crawford or Chadron Fire Halls. A number of the fire crews have set up a tent city on the grounds of the Crawford Fire Hall.

9:15 AM FRIDAY

      Officials say the first update on the wildfire that began early yesterday afternoon about 5 miles south of Crawford will be released about 10:00. 

     The fire west of Hwy 71 between Four Mile Road and West Belmont Road continues to rage out of control with area residents evacuated and at least 1 home reportedly lost.

       Initial Incident Commander Ralph Moul says the fire began shortly after 1:00 when a blaze from several days ago, the Post Fire, was re-ignited by strong, shifting winds that frustrated firefighters for hours and sent out embers that started spot fires.

      Moul is turning over fire command to a state level Type-3 Incident Management Team with strike teams coming in from as far away as Grand Island, Ainsworth, McCook, and O’Neil. 

     State and federal crews joined units from local fire departments in the initial response, but those from Scotts Bluff and Banner Counties were recalled when another major fire broke out about 4:30 in the Wildcat Hills southwest of Gering.  

      Single-engine air tankers and several helicopters fought the fire yesterday with more federal aid, including additional air support, expected today. 

    The voluntary but strongly recommended evacuation effort began around 2:30 with Dawes County Sheriff’s deputies going door-to-door to spread the word

     The Nebraska Department of Transportation closed Hwy 71 a little before 9:00 between Four Mile Road in Dawes County and Scotts Bluff County Road 8900 because of smoke and heavy fire traffic, but the highway reopened this morning. 

      Donated snacks and bottled water for the firefighters can be dropped off at the Crawford or Chadron Fire Halls. A number of the fire crews have set up a tent city on the grounds of the Crawford Fire Hall.

10:00 PM THURSDAY UPDATE The Nebraska Department of Transportation has closed Hwy 71 between Crawford and Scottsbluff because of a wildfire that started this afternoon about 5 miles south of Crawford.

The closure ordered a little before 9 PM is from Four Mile Road in Dawes County and Scotts Bluff County Road 8900. The NDOT has give no indication on when that portion of Hwy 71 may reopen.

Courtesy: Georgia Kahl

      A fast-moving wildfire in timberland on the south side of the Pine Ridge west of Hwy 71 about 5 miles south of Crawford has grown to 600 acres with residents being asked to evacuate immediately. 

     The evacuation area stretches from Four Mile Road on the north to West Belmont on the south with Hwy 71 and Deadman Road the east and west borders.

      The fire was reported a little after 1:00 and by 2:30 authorities had started evacuations.

Dawes County Sheriff’s deputies have been going door-to-door in the rural area with directions on how to evacuate

Courtesy: Billy Estes

      Strong and frequently shifting winds have been plaguing firefighters and making it difficult for them to stay ahead of the blaze.

    The Crawford Fire Department has the lead role against the fire, but a Type 3 Incident Management Team will be taking over.

     Crawford firefighters have been joined by state and federal crews as well as units from a number of other agencies including the Chadron, Harrison, Hemingford, Scottsbluff and Gering departments. 

      A SEAT (single-engine air tanker) is providing air attack support for the ground crews.

      Donated snacks and bottled water for the firefighters can be dropped off at the Chadron Fire Hall and Crawford Fire Hall on Hwy 20. 

Courtesy: Jordan Hall & Chadron Fire Department

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