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Multiple fire departments battle Custer County rangeland fire

Multiple fire departments battle Custer County rangeland fire
Courtesy photo Donna Sexton. Down in the canyon from Oconto's grass rig. 03-12-20
Courtesy photo LaDonna Brock.

Custer County — A large rangeland fire Thursday south of Arnold along Highway 47 in Custer County drew a multitude of fire departments.  Callaway fire units were the first to respond. The fire  blackened many acres according to Arnold Fire Chief Eric Nelson…

“We had a page to a fire at 2:00 o’clock yesterday (Thursday) afternoon from a three-phase powerline that had broke and started two separate grass fires in the same location. Burned approximately 3,890 acres.”

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Courtesy photo Travis Binderup

17 fire departments were paged and assisted at the scene,  along with area ranchers and farmers who pitched in with farm equipment. Country Partners Co-Op provided water. There were no structures damaged, but Nelson says fencing that had to be cut to access the fire will need to be repaired. Nelson says there were some challenges…

“The worst part of the whole day was the wind would change about 10 degrees direction…and we would get one flank of the fire basically contained and put out and then the wind would switch and kick up the other flank of the fire. Just before sundown, the fire did reach some some canyons full of cedar trees and our best way to mitigate that was to burn a blackline all the way around those canyons up on the high ground in the flat to surround it with blackline.”

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Courtesy photo Rudy Vickers

Nelson says there were no injuries to firefighters.  He says one pasture contained some cattle that were not immediately threatened, but ranchers moved them. Nelson visited the fire site this morning and says the fire is 99-percent out. Nelson says fire departments came from as far away as Thedford, Curtis, Farnam, Lexington, and Broken Bow…along with all the fire departments within that geographical square.

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