Retired Fire Chief killed in Nebraska wildfire

National Incident Management Team mobilized

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.

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