Fire fighters fight windy conditions

DOWNS –  Area firefighters were busy yesterday as hazardous wind conditions played havoc on several fires in the surrounding areas of Osborne and Jewell counties Sunday afternoon. 

In Jewell County, the Formoso, Jewell, Randall and Mankato fire departments were dispatched at 9:19 a.m. to a fire which was started in a tree line at North Pheasant Farm, 265 and U Road. 

Several fire departments were called in on a second fire at 11:40 a.m. in the Downs Fire District. Mutual Aid was provided by Smith Center, Esbon, Lebanon, Burr Oak, MCO Fire District No. 1 and MC Fire District No. 3 and Tipton fire departments, who were dispatched to help south of Dentonia, at 30th and G Road in Erving township in Jewell County, for a field of corn stocks on fire that spread to surrounding grass, stubble, timber and pasture land.

The fire was possibly started from an electric line and Rolling Hills Electric disconnected the power and fixed the problem. 

"The fire was moving so fast being wind driven," said Down's Fire Chief  Kail Schoen. "We had zero visibility at times because of the smoke, with very dangerous conditions but thankfully there was no structure loss and nobody was injured."

An estimated 200 acres of land was burnt. 

"We received assistance from numerous local individuals with tractors and disc and additional tanks of water that helped fight the fire, which we were very grateful for," said Schoen. 

Fire units were on scene throughout Sunday night to watch for hot spots. A little moisture in the form of drizzle, raised the humidity levels to where the grass wasn't as much of a threat but much needed rain is needed for the drought stricken areas in Kansas.

At 1:33 p.m., a third grass fire occurred four miles east of Randall taking fire fighters from the second fire to attend to it. 

The National Weather Service initially called dispatch for a fourth fire they had on radar at 1:38 p.m., located three miles south of Mankato in the Jewell's fire district. This was a field fire that had jumped the road. Another possible fire was called in by the NWS who can only see a mass on the radar which they report as possible fires. This report turned out to be a possible flock of birds. 

All fires have been put out for now with no damage reported and windy conditions continue for today. 

 A hazardous weather outlook has been issued by the NWS for today and tonight as patchy freezing drizzle may occur with a wintry mix of sleet and snow. Wind chill readings near 15 below zero are expected for central Nebraska.

Windy conditions are forecast with gust as high as 25 miles per hour today (Monday). A slight chance of freezing drizzle is predicted with a low around 18 degrees. Wind gust of 25 mph are forecast on Tuesday as well with warmer temperatures of 28 degrees. Mostly sunny skies returns for Wednesday with a high near 30 degrees and a northeast wind of 10 mph. 

A 20 percent chance of snow is in the forecast mixing with rain after 4 p.m. on Thursday with a high near 35 degrees. Another chance  of snow is in the forecast for Friday night with 40 percent of snow after midnight and a low around 27 degrees. A 40 percent chance of precipitation is forecast on Saturday with a chance of rain and snow and a high near 49 degrees. 

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