A massive brush fire continued to burn out of control for a second day Saturday, scorching 90,000 acres in north-central Nebraska and driving more than 150 residents from their homes.
What authorities are calling the Fairfield Creek Fire was six to seven miles wide as it moved through Keya Paha County north of Highway 12, said Douglas Fox, emergency manager for the state's Region 24.
“It's still going,” he said by telephone Saturday night from a command post in Ainsworth, Neb.
The blaze began with a lightning strike Friday morning in neighboring northwest Brown County before it raged north.
The fire jumped the Niobrara River and moved through the village of Norden, where it burned homes and other structures. Fox said the number of homes damaged won't be known until the area can be surveyed.
Norden, on the western edge of Keya Paha County, has a population of less than 50. The county fairgrounds are in the village.
Meadville, southeast of Norden, also was threatened, Fox said. That community has about 10 residents, he said.
Those were the only residential areas in the path of the fire, though hundreds of acres were burned or at risk.
About 150 displaced families were at a Red Cross shelter that was opened at the Ainsworth High School. Other people who were evacuated were staying with relatives or friends.
Three hundred firefighters from about 30 departments were battling the flames, Fox said.
A large air tanker from Rapid City, S.D., and a Nebraska National Guard Black Hawk helicopter assisted Saturday. Two more helicopters were expected to join the effort today.
There have been no injuries, Fox said, but some firefighters had to be treated for heat exhaustion.
This report includes material from the World-Herald News Service