By Associated Press
GERING, Neb. (AP) — Fire crews made substantial headway in containing a western Nebraska wildfire that has destroyed some homes, despite getting significantly less rain than officials hoped for.
Officials believed the Carter Canyon Fire south of Gering was about 85% contained by Wednesday morning after being only about 30% contained a day earlier, Ben Bohall with the Nebraska Forest Service said.
Fire crews had hoped storms Tuesday would bring heavy rains to help douse the flames, but Bohall said the area instead only saw light showers and lightning strikes that sparked two additional fires.
The first fire was sparked inside the wildfire parameters and was extinguished after burning a little more than 3 acres (12,140 square meters), Bohall said. The second fire erupted in Banner County south of the wildfire and was put out after burning about 5 acres (20,234 square meters), he said.
A jump in humidity has helped keep the wildfire from gaining energy, Bohall said. There also was a slight chance of thunderstorms and showers Wednesday night, but crews weren't expecting much in they way of help from Mother Nature, he said.
“Still, we're hoping that by tomorrow, we'll end up turning this effort back over to the Gering Fire Department,” Bohall said.
The wildfire has scorched about 25 square miles (65 square kilometers) of mostly grass and timberland, destroying three homes and damaging several others over the weekend. Officials confirmed late Tuesday that the fire was started by several lightning strikes Saturday evening. It gained ground early on due to tinder-dry conditions, rough terrain and high winds.
The National Weather Service has forecast scorching temperatures over 100 degrees (37.7 Celsius) each day through Friday, with the heat receding somewhat to the upper 80s on Saturday.
Other large fires are raging in the West, including a Northern California fire that has burned roughly 90 square miles (233 square kilometers) in the Klamath National Forest. In northwestern Montana, a fire that started Friday on the Flathead Indian Reservation had 25 square miles (66 square kilometers) by Tuesday, and the Moose Fire in Idaho had burned more than 85 square miles (220 square kilometers) in the Salmon-Challis National Forest.