Nebraska Fire Chief killed at a wildland fire

Darren Krull
Darren Krull, Chief of the Elwood Volunteer Fire Department. Nebraska State Patrol photo.

A fire chief was killed in a traffic collision in south-central Nebraska Thursday April 7 at a large wildland fire.

A Ford Expedition, driven by Phelps County Emergency Manager Justin Norris, with passenger Darren Krull, Chief of the Elwood Volunteer Fire Department, was struck head on by a water truck approximately eight miles north of Arapahoe on Highway 283.

The Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) said Chief Krull, 54, of Elwood, was killed at the scene. Norris, 40, of Holdrege, was transported to the hospital in Cambridge with life-threatening injuries. He was transferred to Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney in stable condition. He was later moved to a hospital in Omaha. Friday morning he was in stable condition.

According to NSP, the driver of the water truck, Andries Van Aswegan, 28, of Arapahoe, was not injured in the crash.

The fire and smoke in the area had created zero-visibility conditions on the roadway at the time of the crash.

wildfire in Nebraska
The wildfire in Nebraska burned about 30,000 acres. Nebraska Emergency Management Agency

The fire, 30 miles long and 5.5 miles wide, burned at least 30,000 acres, 8 homes, and 48 other structures. It started when strong winds blew a tree into a power line.

Our sincere condolences go out to the family, friends, and co-workers of Chief Krull.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Art, Gerald, Matt, and Tom.

Firefighter/Paramedic suffers medical emergency at wildland fire; pronounced deceased at hospital

Dennis M. Bender had been with Ponca Hills VFD in Nebraska for 50 years

Dennis M. Bender
Dennis M. Bender. Photo credit: Ponca Hills Volunteer Fire Department.

Firefighter/Paramedic Dennis M. Bender died March 10 as the result of a medical emergency while working in support of crews at a fire north of Omaha, Nebraska, said Ponca Hills Volunteer Fire Chief Joe Sacks. He was immediately taken to a hospital where he was pronounced deceased.

It was the department’s third wildland fire of the day.

Mr. Bender, Nebraska’s longest serving paramedic, lived in the Ponca Hills and was affiliated with the volunteer fire department for 50 years. He was among the first group of Certified Paramedics in the state.

He and his wife of 52 years, Patty, both died on March 10, one year apart. Patty died in 2020.

Our sincere condolences go out to Mr. Bender’s family, his fellow firefighters and paramedics, and his friends.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Bill.

Backing away from a grass fire

Nebraska State Trooper's dash cam fire
Screengrab from Nebraska State Trooper’s dash cam, March 4, 2021

On March 4 the dash cam in a Nebraska State Trooper’s vehicle recorded  some interesting footage from the shoulder of Interstate 80 near Gothenburg as a wildfire approached.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Bob.

Two fires erupt in South Dakota and Nebraska

Posted on Categories WildfireTags ,

North of Hot Springs, SD and south of Chadron, NE

Black Hills Fires August 28, 2020
Map showing the locations of fires in Nebraska and South Dakota, August 28, 2020.

On Friday firefighters were attacking two new fires in South Dakota and Nebraska.

The Aristocrat Fire is in northwest Nebraska near Chadron three miles southeast of the intersection of highways 385 and 20. Spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service Tom Buskirk said at 6:30 p.m. MDT Friday it had burned approximately 200 acres and the spread had been mostly stopped. A variety of federal, state, and local fire agencies are working on the blaze. Mr. Buskirk said a large air tanker and a single engine air tanker had assisted firefighters in the afternoon.

At Wildfire Today we noted that Friday at 2:18 a.m. MDT a satellite detected heat in the area of the Aristocrat Fire.

The Rankin Fire in southwest South Dakota is north of Hot Springs in Wind Cave National Park two miles north of the intersection of highways 87 and 385. The lightning-caused fire is east of highway 87 and 1.5 miles south of Rankin Ridge lookout tower. At 6:30 p.m. MDT Friday the 20-acre fire was burning in an area that has been treated with prescribed fires. It is being attacked by engine crews, a  Type 2 hand crew from Oregon, and a wildland fire module from New Jersey. Three single engine air tankers and a Type 3 helicopter are also assisting firefighters.

Strong winds recorded in CO, NE, KS, and OK

Above: Map showing maximum wind gusts in Nebraska at 1:25 p.m. MST March 5, 2018.

(Originally published at 1:32 p.m. MST March 5, 2018)

As predicted in the Red Flag Warnings Monday morning, strong winds are are occurring in Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

These maps of the four states show maximum wind gusts updated at 1:25 p.m. MST March 5, 2018.


Kansas strong wind
Matt told us about a fire in Clark County, Kansas. The GOES 16 satellite detected it.

fire clark county kansas
The map below shows a fire detected by a satellite in Clark County Kansas at 1:15 p.m. CST March 5. It is south of Dodge City and west of Ashland.

UPDATE at 1:54 p.m. MST March 5, 2018: the satellite is detecting another fire in Kansas, farther west, near Hugoton.

UPDATE at 3:19 p.m. MST March 5, 2018. The fire in Clark County is reportedly contained. That fire and the one farther west are no longer being detected by the satellite.


Oklahoma wind


Colorado strong wind

Time lapse of prescribed fire at Homestead NM

This is a time lapse of the 23-acre prescribed fire that was partially ignited by an unmanned aircraft system, or drone, April 22 at Homestead National Monument in southeast Nebraska. During the test, firefighters with drip torches lit the perimeter, while the drone ignited the interior.

More information about the use of the drone on the project.