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.
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.