Firefighters share experience battling recent Nebraska wildfires

Countless volunteer firefighters from around Nebraska helped battle the recent wildfires in southwest Nebraska.
Published: May. 4, 2022 at 11:11 AM CDT|Updated: May. 4, 2022 at 11:25 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Countless volunteer firefighters from around Nebraska helped battle the recent wildfires in southwest Nebraska.

Todd Downer with the Bartley Volunteer Fire Department says the recent rain is good news. “Hopefully it greens things up pretty quick,” Downer said. Downer is also a farmer in the area.

Logan Baker is a firefighter with the Cambridge volunteer fire department. Both men still recall the “Arapahoe” fire and the “Road 702″ fire very well.

“We’ve always had a bond between departments like Bartley, Cambridge, Indianola, Arapahoe and others,” Baker said. “But in the last month, it’s been amazing how we’ve all come together to work as one. There were 70 departments that battled the wildfires, and now we have connections across the whole state.”

“I think we were out there about 36 hours straight,” Downer said. “Either on a fire truck, or sometimes I would jump in a tractor and a disk. The adrenaline was keeping you going, trying to save anything you could. It was really emotional seeing towns from all over the state come in. Some of the departments came from 100 miles away. It was just emotional.”

“I was with our fire chief a lot of the time,” Baker said. “Their homes were right in line with the fires. There was a point where we thought we’d lost every home from Wilsonville to north of the Cambridge lake. You are doing all you can, but you just don’t know if it’s enough. The next day came, and we thought ‘that’s still standing, it actually worked, God helped us through and saved so much’. But unfortunately, not everything was saved.”

Farmers and ranchers are now in need of fencing supplies after the fire, along with feed. “There’s a lot of fundraisers going on,” Baker said. “About every department in southwest Nebraska has some kind of fundraiser.” The Indianola Fire Department is working to raise money for local fire departments in need of new equipment through a Venmo account. There is also a meeting at the Cambridge High School on Thursday, May 5 at 5 p.m. where local producers will be able to get information on assistance after the fire.

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