Nebraska fire burns 15,000 acres as ranchers hurry to move cattle; state 4-H camp lost

More than 15,000 acres have burned from the latest wildfire in the Nebraska Sandhills and one rancher says his operation nearly avoided its path.

“We’ve lived here 14 years and we’ve never had any property burn until this year, with the exception of one other small fire.”

Jason Hoffman owns a large cow/calf and seed stock operation near Thedford and says a portion of his pasture burned. “One pasture, I’m assuming, is at least 200 or 300 acres.  Other neighbors have it a lot worse.  From what I’m hearing and what I saw from fighting the fire last night, they lost a lot of country.”

He tells Brownfield neighbors raced to help him move cattle out of the path of the blaze until 4am Monday morning. “We have a pivot in the center of our pasture, and we were able to shove a lot of cattle onto there and then move other cattle as far northwest as we could on our own ground.”

He says high winds and record drought continue increase risks for wildfires. “We’ve been pretty fortunate, but everybody is probably going to get a turn out here.”

As of Monday morning, Hoffman says it was too early to determine the extent of damage to forage and any potential loss of livestock.  

The Nebraska Forest Service says the fire started Sunday afternoon inside the Nebraska National Forest and the Nebraska State 4-H Camp says most of their facilities are destroyed.

Nebraska State 4-H Camp cabins and the Eppley Lodge are a complete loss, according to the group’s Facebook post

The Nebraska Forest service has not released the cause of the fire and says it’s still burning.  

Jason Hoffman:

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