More than half of the Nebraska Sandhills wildfire is now contained, local fire officials say

HALSEY, Nebraska — On Wednesday, officials reported that a destructive wildfire in the Nebraska Sandhills, which claimed the life of a firefighter while battling the flames, was more than fifty percent contained.

According to a report from the Rocky Mountain Complex Incident Management Team, the size of the Bovee Fire in west-central Nebraska has increased to nearly 19,000 acres, or approximately 30 square miles (78 square kilometers), from 15,000 acres, or approximately 23 square miles (60 square kilometers), reported Sunday night.

As of Wednesday, 56% of the fire was contained, according to officials. Continued good weather conditions are assisting fire workers in containing the grassland fire that was ignited on Sunday afternoon and grew rapidly in tinder-dry terrain within a few of hours.

The fire burned the Nebraska State 4-H Camp’s main lodge and cabins, along with an observation tower in the Bessey Ranger District of the Nebraska National Forest. Assistant Chief Mike Moody of the Purdum Volunteer Fire Department died on Sunday after having an apparent heart attack while fighting the fire, according to officials.

As a result of the fire’s thick smoke, the nearby community of Halsey was briefly evacuated and a portion of Nebraska Highway 2 was closed on Sunday. Officials have stated that the fire was “initiated by humans,” but have not disclosed the specifics of how it began.

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