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Game and Parks Stresses Safety Following Weekend Fire at Branched Oak WMA

LINCOLN – The cause of a fire at Branched Oak Wildlife Management Area (WMA) over the weekend is under investigation.

The fire started around 3:30 p.m. Sunday and burned around 1,000 acres, 325 of which were located on the WMA. The fire melted a plastic drainage tube at the WMA and destroyed approximately 1.25 miles of fence. It also caused damage to property on private land. All damage at Branched Oak WMA was north of the marina.

Nineteen volunteer fire departments responded to the fire, which was contained around 7:30 p.m. Sunday. The cause remains unknown.

To prevent fires, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission recommends those visiting wildlife management areas, state parks and state recreation areas take the following precautions:

– Cigarettes, matches or any smoking material should never be thrown from vehicles or into a grassland. Make sure these materials are extinguished.

– Never leave campfires unattended. When extinguishing, douse with water and stir to make sure they are completely out.

– Be careful with lanterns, stoves and heaters. Do not tip over or drop on combustible materials. Let them cool down before re-fueling. Don’t spill fuel when re-fueling.

– Don’t drive vehicles off roads and trails into grassland when conditions are dry. Catalytic converters could ignite combustible materials.

– Follow local ordinances when burning grasslands, trash, leaves, etc.

– Always observe burn bans.

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About Jerry Kane

Jerry Kane is the news manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He can be contacted at jerry.kane@nebraska.gov or 402-471-5008.

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