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Williams Gap WMA closed for wildfire

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has temporarily closed Williams Gap Wildlife Management Area in Banner County as ground and aerial crews battle a wildfire on the property and the vicinity.

Hunter Baillie, a wildlife manager for Game and Parks’ northwest district, said several hundred acres of the wildlife area in the Wildcat Hills escarpment south of McGrew have burned in what has been named the Smokey Fire. However, most of the wildfire, estimated to have burned as much as 4,200 acres, has been outside its boundaries with an official status of zero containment. The fire was reported at about 4 p.m. Sept. 13 and its cause has not been determined.

This is the second time wildfire has struck Williams Gap in recent years. In 2020, the Hubbard’s Gap Fire burned about 4,000 acres in the region, including about 60% of the 1,829-acre property.

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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