A wildfire that exploded in size in drought-stricken central Nebraska has destroyed much of a youth campsite and led officials to evacuate a nearby village.
The Bovee Fire was initially reported as having burned around 100 acres early Sunday in the Bessey Ranger District of the Nebraska National Forest, officials said. By Sunday night, the grassland fire in the state’s Sandhills region had grown to about 15,000 acres, or around 24 square miles, according to the Nebraska National Forests & Grasslands.
The Nebraska State 4-H Camp confirmed in a tweet that most of the camp’s buildings, including its main lodge and all of its youth cabins, were destroyed in the fire. Officials also evacuated the tiny nearby village of Halsey, which is home to about 65 people, and shut down a section of state Highway 2 as smoke from the fire cut visibility.
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Firefighters from several departments were called in and a bulldozer brought in to help dig a trench to contain the fire.
Officials with the Nebraska national Forests and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency did not immediately return messages Monday morning seeking updates on the fire.
The fire was “likely human-caused,” the Nebraska National Forest said. No injuries from the flames had been reported by midday Monday.
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The U.S. Drought Monitor shows Thomas County remains in a severe drought.
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