Fires in Boone, Cherry, Fillmore, Holt, Knox, Merrick and Nance counties accounted for an estimated 58,000 acres Wednesday in Nebraska which brings the estimates of number of acres burned to 300,000 for this fire season.
"There is potential for any spark to become a flame with these high winds and dry conditions," said Al Berndt, assistant director for Nebraska Emergency Management Agency. "We have activated our fire watch and hope we don't see more situations like we saw yesterday. This will be a persistent problem until we get some moisture on the ground. We really could use some snow."
Cherry County's fire originated in South Dakota and has burned a path approximately 15 miles in length and five-mile wide. The fire burned 3,000 acres in South Dakota before entering Nebraska north of Kilgore. At least 75 acres have burned since the fire crossed into Nebraska.
25 mutual aid fire departments were called in to fight the fire and the town of Crookston had to be evacuated. Crookston residents have been allowed to go back to their homes Thursday as the fire has moved to the southeast, sparing the town.
However, fire crews are still battling the fire. Valentine Fire Chief Terry Engles says 50-60 firefighters have the fire "knocked down around the perimeter, but it sparks up."
The State Fire Marshal's Wildland Incident and Response and Assistance Team is on standby and NEMA staff is working with the Region 24 Emergency Manager Doug Fox to monitor the situation and assess needs.
Dry conditions and high winds contributed to the fires. No injuries have been reported, however a few outbuildings have been damaged.
Nebraska Fire Marshal Ray Nance says another fire in Holt County, in north-central Nebraska, has damaged two structures, but he says it's unclear whether those were occupied. The fire has been contained, with crews working on hot spots.
An estimated 600 acres have been burned including several outbuildings. A mile of trees west of Stuart was still on fire and has not been contained.
Southeast Nebraska's Fillmore County has also been busy. Fire crews have been working on battling a fire near the Clay and Fillmore county line Wednesday afternoon. The fire is about 75 percent contained with nine fire departments still on the scene.
A fire south of Center in Knox County started Thursday morning but is now fairly well contained. Eleven fire crews responded to this call. Approximately 200 to 300 acres were affected.
Cedar Rapids fire remains at 100 percent contained on 500 acres. St. Edward is 100 percent contained on an estimated 160 acres.
Genoa is contained in a canyon but is still active with dry timber surrounding the rim of the canyon. The fire is 50 percent out with 80 acres affected. The hay bales near Palmer are 95-100 percent out and did not spread beyond the feed lot.