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Crews responding to wildfires in the Panhandle

Wildfire in Wildcat Hills
A Nebraska Game and Parks Commission fire rig guards the perimeter as the wildfire burns in the Wildcat Hills near McGrew on Thursday. (Photo by Justin Powell)

ALLIANCE, Neb. – Visitors to public lands and other recreational sites in the Nebraska Panhandle are being advised of wildfires in the region, and are being asked to be especially cautious because the heightened risk for fires brought on by hot and dry weather.

The Hubbard Gap Fire in the Wildcat Hills in Banner County south of McGrew had burned about 4,000 acres as of Friday afternoon. In addition to threatening and affecting private agricultural lands, early estimates indicate the fire burned about three-fourths of the 1,829-acre Williams Gap Wildlife Management Area.

Among the multiple resources responding to the fire are airplanes and helicopters. Aircraft may use Lake Minatare State Recreation Area and other ponds and reservoirs in the region this weekend. In the event of aircraft activity, boaters are advised to stay near the shoreline.

On Friday, crews with air tankers also were responding to a wildfire in the Pine Ridge about 3 miles south-southeast of Chadron. It was estimated to be 4-5 acres early in the afternoon.

About Justin Haag

Justin Haag has served the Commission as a public information officer in the Panhandle since 2013. His duties include serving as regional editor for NEBRASKAland Magazine. Haag was raised in southwestern Nebraska, where he developed a love for fishing, hunting and other outdoor pursuits. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chadron State College in 1996, he worked four years as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Chadron and McCook. Prior to joining the Commission in 2013, he worked 12 years as a communicator at Chadron State, serving as the institution’s media and public relations coordinator the last five. He and his wife, Cricket, live in Chadron, and have two children.

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