Wildfire in Nebraska burns more than 1,000 acres of timber

Updated at 10:30 a.m. MDT May 20, 2022

Map 201 East Fire
Map of the 201 East Fire, Friday morning, May 20, 2022.

In a Friday morning briefing Caleb, Operations Section Chief, said the 201 East Fire in Central Nebraska is still 4,100 acres and is not expected to grow larger.


Updated 9:09 p.m. MDT May 19, 2022

201 East Fire, May 19, 2022 Nebraska
201 East Fire in central Nebraska, May 19, 2022. By@littleemilee6.

The 201 East Fire in Central Nebraska was very active again Thursday afternoon, as the convection column topped out with a hint of pyrocumulus. Thursday evening fire officials estimated it had grown to 4,100 acres, an increase of about 2,600 acres since Wednesday evening. Much of the growth was on the east side where it ran for about two miles, but when the wind shifted from coming from the west and then north gusting to 30 to 35 mph, it spread to the south where it merged with the Whitetail Fire, which also started from Tuesday’s lightning; it had been stopped at 8 acres, but flared up again Thursday. As of Thursday evening, the additional southward spread had not crossed the Dismal River.

Firefighters were battling 90 degree temperatures and strong, shifting winds.

Additional firefighting resources are arriving, including hand crews, helicopters, and engines. They hoping to directly suppress the flanks as it moves into the grass to the east.

The forecast for Friday is cooler temperatures, 55 degrees, 40 percent relative humidity, and 18 mph winds gusting out of the northwest at 28 mph, but there is a 26 percent chance of rain Friday night.

201 East Fire, May 19, 2022 Nebraska
201 East Fire in central Nebraska, May 19, 2022. By@littleemilee6.

9:48 a.m. MDT May 19, 2022

map 201 East Fire in Nebraska
Map of the 201 East Fire in Nebraska. The red line was the approximate perimeter early in the morning May 19, 2022. The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours before. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 3:15 a.m. MDT May 19, 2022.

A fire in central Nebraska has burned about 1,500 acres of timber in the Nebraska National Forest. The 201 East Fire is one of six in the area ignited by lightning on Tuesday May 17. Firefighters were able to stop the spread of the others at less than 9 acres.

It started in a 21,000-acre patch of timber three miles south of Halsey. By Wednesday morning a dozer line had it mostly encircled, but in the afternoon the fire crossed the line on the east side and ran for about 1.5 miles, leaving the timber and getting into grass. District Ranger Julie Bain said greenup has started but there is enough dead grass mixed with this year’s growth to still carry a fire, but they feel they can more easily stop it in the grass.

201 East Fire in Nebraska
201 East Fire in Nebraska, May 18, 2022. Photo by Air Attack pilot @littleemilee6.

Aircraft used on the fire Wednesday included two single engine air tankers, two large air tankers, and an air attack ship. A Type 3 incident management team has been assigned.

The weather recorded at Thedford Wednesday afternoon as the fire made the run to the east was 6 to 13 mph winds occasionally gusting to 17 mph, 84 degrees, and 26 percent relative humidity.

201 East Fire, May 18, 2022
USFS District Ranger Julie Bain at a lookout tower during a briefing about the 201 East Fire, Wednesday afternoon May 18, 2022.

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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.

6 thoughts on “Wildfire in Nebraska burns more than 1,000 acres of timber”

  1. It’s a fake forest anyway. The Nebraska is where GS Fantastics from the FS get sent to a metaphorical Siberia. “Here, here is a GS 13 to go “manage” the fake forest we planted in the middle of the NB sand hills. ?

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  2. My Uncle’s father studied Forestry at the University Of Nebraska. In 1909 he helped plant trees at Halsey under the direction of Dr. Bessey. He was quite proud of his Forest when he saw it in 1955.
    I am now the care taker of a document detailing the history of the Nebraska National Forest from 1902 until 1952. 30 pages with many black and white photos.
    A quote from the document: “The Forest Service has developed an efficient fire control plan. It includes a steel observation tower on each of two divisions of the FOREST. These towers are continuously manned during the seasons of serious fire danger. supplementing the detection system, the most modern automotive equipment -4-wheel drive trucks fitted with fog-pump outfits are available to adequately handle any fires. Supplementing this mechanical equipment, a series of fire lines has been established in and around the planted areas for fire control. The reduction of inflammable material through grazing has also been an important factor in the control of fires.”

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  3. I felt for those burned precious trees. It has been a very dry year so far in Phoenix without Monsoon (for the first time in 10 years). It is very worrysome to me. One sensed this dramatic change but there is nothing we can do except praying and hoping rain would come later.

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  4. No forest in the Sand Hills of Nebraska?? You’re quite mistaken. The north central area of Nebraska is within the Sand Hill area and it certainly has native Ponderosa Pine. You should take a drive to the Valentine area and enlighten yourself.

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  5. If a person had that same grade and quantity of timber on private land, what could they sell it for ?

    Another way of asking, what is it worth, what is the approx. economic cost of this kind of fire.

    What are the units of measure that the natural resources industry uses for raw bulk quality wood ? a derivative of board feet perhaps ?

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  6. Might want to consider the Scotch Pine (AKA Crotch pine), Austrian pine, jack pine, and Doug fir that were hand planted there, too.

    Not only were they planted for some sort of timber operations, maybe it was to keep the soils intact.

    A least that is what I was told about 25 yrs ago when I traveled and climbed the tower

    Yup and a Olympic sized swimmin pool that just had to be placed there BITD….can’t beat HOT NE summer

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