The weather was improving, so fire crews used it to fight large fires in the West. However, they are concerned that Tuesday’s stronger winds could increase the danger.
The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency stated that the wildfire in southwestern Nebraska that claimed the life of a former volunteer chief, left 15 injured firefighters, and destroyed many homes was only half contained. Jonathan Ashford, spokesperson for the Rocky Mountain Complex Incident Management Team, stated that firefighters were racing against Mother Nature to keep that line and complete a containment boundary.
The Road 702 Fire has burned approximately 70 miles (181 kilometers) of mostly farmland, near the Nebraska-Kansas border, and was thought to have been about 47% contained.
The National Weather Service issued Tuesday’s red flag warning for areas of mostly prairie and farmland after a brief break in weather conditions Monday. Temperatures are expected to rise, humidity will drop to 15%, and wind gusts up to 35 mph (56 km/h) will be the norm.
Ashford stated, “Today will certainly be a bit more of a challenge.”
Crews worked in the West to control flames that had charred an area of 225 miles (583 kilometers) in recent days. Many small villages are at risk and evacuations continue. Although there are unknown numbers of homes that have been damaged, authorities have not been able to access many areas due to the conditions.
The Sangre de Cristo Mountains have been blacked by the largest wildfire, which has engulfed more than 94 miles (243 kilometers). Crews were waiting for the weather to turn this week, with more hot and dry conditions expected for the region.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there were four new fires Monday. Two of them were in Colorado, and one was in Oklahoma. The agency reported Tuesday that 11 large fires had burned approximately 342 sq miles (886 km) in six US states. These fires are being attended by more than 3,500 wildland firefighters as well as support personnel.