UPDATE at 11:47 a.m. MT, August 31 2012:
Below is another update from Beth Hermanson:
Fire officials report progress on the Region 23 Fire Complex, now 25% contained with portions of the Douthit fire northwest of Crawford possibly moving into mop-up status. Progress was also made on the West Ash fire southwest of Chadron to secure more lines to help with structure and property protection. Fire crews plan to make the most of calm early morning conditions, anticipating mid-morning changes.
A Red Flag Fire Weather Warning is the primary challenge facing fire crews on the combined 68,689 acre Region 23 Complex, with today being the first of a possible three-day warning. Forecasters anticipate a warm front moving into the area mid-morning that will shift winds to the south and bring higher temperatures with drier conditions. The southerly winds may become strong with gusts up to 30 mph or more.
Safety will be the highest priority today, knowing conditions are changing. Ed Wagonner, Operations Section Chief of the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team C stated, “Today is critical for these fires because it’s the first of three possible Red Flag Days, and we really don’t know how the fires will respond to the winds.”
One of our loyal web site visitors in Custer, South Dakota told us that they heard radio traffic indicating that a very large air tanker was ordered for the fire, with an ETA of around 4-5 p.m.
UPDATE, 2:37 a.m. MT, August 31, 2012:
We have an updated map, above, showing heat detected by a satellite at 10:54 p.m. August 30, 2012.
Here is new information about two of the three fires from Beth Hermanson, a public information officer with the Incident Management Team:
More than 68,689 acres have burned in the Region 23 Complex fire in northwest Nebraska according to Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team C officials.
The complex consists of two fires — the West Ash Fire near Chadron and the Douthit Fire near Crawford. The fires started by lightning, Aug. 28. Containment of the fires is estimated at 10 percent. West Ash accounts for 44,354 acres and the Douthit fire has burned 24,335 acres.
The fires are in rugged inaccessible terrain burning ponderosa pine and grass. Fire fighters focused on fire suppression today as well as evaluation of the fire perimeter. Red flag warning is expected to continue, possibly for the next three days. Fire fighters are working through the night preparing areas of the fire likely to be affected by potential high winds over the next several days.
(originally posted at 8:50 p.m. MT, August 30, 2012)
Fires in northwest Nebraska have burned more than 25,000 acres since lightning ignited the blazes on Tuesday.
The map of the fires above shows heat detected by a satellite at 1:31 p.m. MT on August 30, with the red color being the most recently mapped.
A Type 2 Incident Management Team with Joe Lowe as Incident Commander assumed control of two of the fires Thursday morning. The Douthit Fire between Crawford and Harrison and the West Ash Creek Fire between Chadron and Crawford are zero percent contained.
Spokesperson Beth Hermanson said some structures have been lost but did not know the exact number.
Information about current evacuations can be found at InciWeb.