Just hours after authorities believed the Hubbard Gap Fire had been fully beaten back and contained, fire departments from throughout the region were recalled as windy conditions caused remaining hotspots to flare over and find new fuel.
Region 22 Emergency Manager Tim Newman tells KNEB News the blaze resumed its march on the south side of the Wildcat Hills between noon and 1 p.m., this time running through a smaller area of bluffs before emerging on the plains and moving southeast.
Mutual aid calls were quickly issued, and at the scene firefighters from Banner County had been joined by those from Gering, Bayard, Mitchell, McGrew and the Western Nebraska Regional Airport as of about 1:30 p.m.,with many more said to be in the way.
Homes along Banner Co. Roads 67 and 69 were evacuated as a precaution around 2 p.m. with the assistance of deputies from the Morrill County Sheriff’s Office.
Newman said containment was nearly complete as of Sunday morning, so much so that incident commanders and emergency managers released the National Guard helicopters that had been assisting since Friday with water drops.
Newman said single-engine air tankers from Chadron and Hot Springs were once again making drops, and larger aircraft were anticipated to join the fight if needed. As of just after 3 p.m., Newman said the flare-up had been stopped on the west side of CR 67.
Overall acres impacted by the fire up until Sunday morning were reduced to 3,400 after a more detailed review of the burned areas west of Hubbard Gap and County Road 67.