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.