Nebraska firefighters battle wildfire in Montana

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 12:08 AM CDT
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(WOWT) - A team from the Gering Volunteer Fire Department is helping battle one of nearly 90 wildfires burning in the United States as the country’s on pace to break records set during last year’s wildfire season.

“The timber is so thick you can’t get in there and work safely,” said Jeff Vance, engine captain with the Gering Fire Department.

The crew is fighting a nearly 2,000 acre fire sparked by lightening deep in the mountains of Montana; making the nearly 900 mile trek to the top the state to fight the Hay Creek fire, one of dozens lighting up Montana.

“We have poor accessibility is what the problem is. It’s on a 60 percent slope high up on to of the mountain top 8,000 feet, limited access, can’t get on any roads, can’t get on any roads,” said Vance, noting the fire is not at all contained.

The goal now is to hold back the blaze and protect the 250 homes under threat. “We plumped in a 5,000-foot hose line yesterday,” said Vance.

And they’re working in hot, smoky conditions.

“It’s long days you know, up early in the morning, late at night and sleeping in a tent on the ground,” said Vance. “Not having a shower for days and then you have to have a baby-wipe shower at the end of the shift every day.”

This crew and others from the Gering Fire Department are trained to take on wildfire, and are often called out of state to battle big blazes.

“That’s just the nature of the game,” said Vance. “We’re here to help people out.”

2020 was a record year for wildfire in the united states with more than 10,000 million acres burned. This year two-and-a-half million acres have already burned. That’s over eight-hundred-thousand acres more than this time last year.

Vance, along with Darrell Vance, and Jeremey Cripps have been fighting the Hay Creek fire since Friday. They will be relieved by another crew from the Gering Fire Department later this week.

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