Retired Fire Chief killed in Nebraska wildfire

National Incident Management Team mobilized

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Updated 8:17 a.m. MDT April 26, 2022

Blackhawk helicopters Road 702 fire Nebraska National Guard
Blackhawk helicopters from the Nebraska National Guard drop water on the Road 702 Fire west of Cambridge. Incident Management Team photo.

Firefighters made good progress Monday on the Road 702 Fire in southwest Nebraska.

Most of the fire impacted grass and crop lands, but there are woody draws which have heavier fuels, especially on Beaver Creek along Highway 89 and near the Republican River south of US 34. Those areas are receiving more attention from firefighters as they are mopping up. Incident Commander Rob Powell said there will be smoke in those draws for a while.

The most recent map produced at 4 p.m. MDT April 25 shows an increase of about 300 acres to bring the total up to 41,448 acres, due to a four mile long finger of fire north of US 34 northeast of Bartley that was not detected during an earlier mapping flight. Fire crews have contained all of the fire north of the highway, including the additional acreage.

The fire started in Kansas on Friday April 22 during a wind event which pushed it north quickly into Nebraska where it continued running. The fire was 27 miles long when firefighters were able to stop it two miles southwest of the Medicine Creek Reservoir.


9:46 a.m. MDT April 25, 2022

Map Road 702 Fire Nebraska
Map of the Road 702 Fire at 1:42 p.m. MDT April 24, 2022.

A retired fire chief died in a Nebraska fire that has burned 41,155 acres in the southwest part of the state. The Road 702 Fire is west of the towns of Cambridge and Wilsonville and has crossed both US 34 and State highway 89. About 1,500 acres of the blaze is in Kansas.

Alyssa Sanders, with the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, said 66-year-old John P. Trumble, of Arapahoe, was overcome by smoke and fire after his vehicle left the road Friday April 22 during conditions of poor visibility caused by smoke and dust. His body was found early Saturday. He was assisting firefighters by serving as a spotter in Red Willow County.

Road 702 Fire wildfire Nebraska
Road 702 Fire. Nebraska State Patrol drone photo.

Nebraska National Guard has mobilized three helicopters and several support trucks to help battle the fire.

A Type 1 Incident Management Team from the Rocky Mountain Geographic Area led by Incident Commander Dan Dallas assumed command April 24.

Stephanie Shively with the Incident Management Team said Monday morning that the resources on the fire include 9 engines, one 20-person crew, and the 3 National Guard helicopters for a total of about 100 personnel. They have outstanding orders for dozers and another hand crew.

Ms. Shively said the size of the fire has not changed since it was mapped Sunday.

We send our sincere condolences to the family, friends, and co-workers of Chief Trumble.

Road 702 Fire wildfire Nebraska
Road 702 Fire. Posted April 24, 2022 by Loomis Volunteer Fire & Rescue.
Road 702 Fire wildfire Nebraska
Nebraska Army and Air National Guard firefighters work the edges of a burned area near Hayes Center, Neb., April 24, 2022, to extinguish hot spots and prevent reignition. Photos courtesy of Capt. Joshua Miller.

More photos are below.

Road 702 Fire wildfire Nebraska
Road 702 Fire. Posted April 24, 2022 by Loomis Volunteer Fire & Rescue.
Road 702 Fire wildfire Nebraska
Road 702 Fire. April 24. Nebraska State Patrol drone photo.
Road 702 Fire wildfire Nebraska
Road 702 Fire. Posted April 24, 2022 by Nebraska EMA.
Road 702 Fire wildfire Nebraska
Road 702 Fire. Posted April 24, 2022 by Nebraska EMA.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

10 thoughts on “Retired Fire Chief killed in Nebraska wildfire”

  1. Rest in peace Chief Trumble.
    How sad. This incident points out once again that grass will get you. Amazing what a grass fire will do with a wind behind it. Stay safe out there brothers and sisters, and remember that sooner or later the rains and/or snow will come and the grass, brush, and trees will all eventually all grow back. It’s not worth dying over. Wear your PPE and use an attack line big enough to knock the flame front down if things do go south.

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  2. RIP John P. Trumble

    The growth and spread of many fires in the last 5 years has caught many of us off guard. Not sure how to adjust the placement of resources safely. I have been watching the fire grown in region 3 and the mid west, they have a strong grass crop and a dry winter. I saw the noaa discussion for the 10 year wind event. Scary times so sorry to hear about Chief John P. Trumble.

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  3. Sad situation, my condolences to the Chiefs family and friends.

    On a separate note, Bill, the Rocky Mtn GACC no longer has Type 1 and Type 2 teams as they are all now “CIMT’s” Complex Incident Management Teams. The RM GACC is being used as a beta tester for the program and have dropped the T1/T2 distinction as has NICC.

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    1. Probably for the better due to retirements and years to get to different positions….just read the position paper from 2021 that started this process….change for the better is what is hoped for…Hope is not a Method…

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      1. It’s going ro take a helluva lot more than a rename and a couple crosswalks to fix our collateral duty IMT’s. Imagine if the New England Patriots or the LA Rams etc etc were a collateral duty football team??? They all had reg day jobs but, occasionally they have to go play a pro game! Ha! That is what our IMT’s do now except the stakes are juuuuuuuuust a bit higher. Quite frankly I find it ridiculous and dangerous that we’re still staffing FEDERAL IMT’s like we are.

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