Firefighting efforts continue at Bovee Fire near Halsey

HALSEY—Efforts continue to battle the 15,000-acre Bovee Fire that ignited Sunday afternoon three miles south of Halsey and the Bessey Ranger District Office. Travis Mason-Bushman of United States Forest Service works as a public information officer for the fire.

KCNI/KBBN spoke to Mason-Bushman regarding the fire. On Monday afternoon, he said the fire was 0% contained and had burned about 15,000 acres. The fire was first reported at 1:39 p.m. on Sunday, October 2, 2022. The exact cause is still under investigation.

More than 100 personnel from federal, state and local agencies are working to fight the fire with 10 engines, 2 Type 1 Hotshot manual crews, 1 bulldozer and 1 fire suppression module.

KCNI/KBBN: Why was it designated Bovee Fire?

Mason Bushman: Fires are usually named after geographical features of the area and are named by the first firefighters to arrive on the scene through a process called incident command.

“The fire covers 15,000 acres. Right now we have 0% containment. We have over 100 firefighters actively working to put out the fire. They made good progress last night on the east and north sides of the fire. Today the goal is to try and complete that box and get a box around the west side of the fire,” Mason-Bushman said.

KCNI/KBBN: Did you say 15,000 acres?

Mason Bushman: “Correct. The fire moved about 15 miles north of where it started yesterday afternoon. It started about 3 miles south of Halsey and moved 15 miles north late last night He got up and moved a lot real quick.

KCNI/KBBN: Can you confirm the cause of the fire?

Mason Bushman: “It’s a man-made fire; we know there was no lightning in the area. Beyond that is man-made; the specific cause will still be investigated.

KCNI/KBBN: How are firefighters trying to contain the fire?

Mason Bushman: “You have the fire triangle: heat, fuel, oxygen. Take out any of them and you have no fire and so your goal is to break that triangle, to break that chain reaction,” he continued. “When you have 15,000 acres of fire, you know it takes a lot of water to move through it. So your B strategy is to take the fuel off. So what you’re literally doing is – we can call it a cut line.

It literally means cutting a path between where the fire is and where it wants to burn where there is no fuel. You can do it with a bulldozer, you can do it with a mower, you can do it with a shovel and a Pulaski, and you can do it with fire retardants from an air tanker,” Mason-Bushman continued. .

“You make the fire have no fuel to burn in front of it and when it runs out of fuel it will essentially go out. You remove the fuel by any means necessary.

KCNI/KBBN: Where are the firefighters coming from to fight the fire?

Mason Bushman: Firefighters from all over. Local departments of Purdum, Halsey, Thedford and surrounding communities, State Resources of Nebraska and South Dakota, Colorado, and the National Park Service and Forest Service.

“As with any kind of disaster, no matter what color your uniform is, we’re all working together to get the job done and that’s to put out this fire as quickly as possible,” Mason-Bushman said.

KCNI/KBBN: Can you confirm the loss of buildings or structures?

Mason Bushman: “I can sadly confirm that the Nebraska 4-H camp suffered structural loss: the main lodge and RV cabins burned down,” he said. The Scott Lookout tower was also lost to the fire, he added.
They managed to protect the structure and were able to save the camp staff quarters and Bessey’s historic nursery.

KCNI/KBBN: Why is this fire so much bigger than the one in May?

Mason Bushman: Lots of factors: This is a wind driven fire moving it fast, gusts of wind pushed the fire north very quickly. Better weather on Monday with lighter winds and cooler temperatures.

Area 26 Emergency Management Purdum Volunteer Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Mike Moody, 59, died in the line of duty after succumbing to a medical emergency.

Highway 2 is open but drivers are urged to avoid the area if possible and exercise caution. The Bessey Ranger District is closed to the public and will remain so for some time, Mason-Bushman said.

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