Officials say Nebraska Sandhills wildfire 30% contained

HALSEY, Neb. (AP) — Progress has been made in containing a large Nebraska Sandhills wildfire where one firefighter died while fighting the flames, which also destroyed much of a popular youth campsite and threatened a small village, officials said Tuesday.

The Bovee Fire in west-central Nebraska’s remote Thomas County was 30% contained Tuesday morning, according to a statement from the Rocky Mountain Complex Incident Management Team, which has taken over management of the scene.

Favorable weather conditions, including high humidity, temperatures in the 60s and some rainfall, are helping fire crews contain the grasslands blaze that was sparked Sunday afternoon and ballooned to 15,000 acres, or around 24 square miles (62 square kilometers), within six hours.

The fire destroyed the main lodge and cabins of the Nebraska State 4-H Camp, as well as an observation tower in the Bessey Ranger District of the Nebraska National Forest. Purdum Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Mike Moody died Sunday after suffering an apparent heart attack while battling the fire, officials said.

Officials ordered the evacuation of the nearby village of Halsey and shut down a stretch of Nebraska Highway 2 as smoke from the fire cut visibility. The highway was reopened by Monday. The Rocky Mountain Complex release Tuesday said the evacuation order had been lifted.

Officials have said the fire was “human-caused,” but have not released details on how the fire started.

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