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Hubbard Gap Fire Burns Estimated 4,000 Acres

By mid-Monday morning, the Hubbard Gap fire in Banner County appeared to finally be extinguished according to Tim Newman, Emergency Management 22 director.

Newman said, that "it's not burning but we're still here. We'll be here for the next two or three days; we want to make sure that we tie a bow on it."

The estimated number of acres burned stood at 4,000 this week. Earlier estimates from days before also had reported 4,000 acres burned, but the number was overestimated at that point.

About 30 different fire departments responded or have helped patrol for hot spots. Departments from Imperial, Crawford, Harrison, Albin, Gering, Scottsbluff Rural, Scottsbluff Airport, Kimball, Potter, Mitchell, Morrill, Melbeta were just some of those responding to Banner County.

The fire started late in the morning Thursday, Aug. 27, on the Hubbard Gap road auto gate, according to Newman. It appears that it was not a natural event such as lightening, but they are suggesting that either a cigarette or perhaps a spark from dragging a chain across the auto gate started the fire.

On Thursday, a number of airplanes responded and were in the air to help fight the fire. This included three single engine air tankers, one Fire Boss water bomber equipped with pontoons and a four-engine jet out of Colorado that made four drops of fire retardant. An Air Attack plane was the command control plane in the air to watch and direct traffic and drops.

On Friday and Saturday, two National Guard Black Hawk helicopters with baskets holding 640 gallons of water worked the fire as well as three single engine air tankers, which were from Chadron and Hot Springs, S.D.

Sunday "was more dangerous than any of the other days because the fire ran faster in the grass," Newman stated. The Fire Boss with pontoons åwas called on again and they scooped water from Lake Minatare to dump on the fire.

Sunday with the winds turned out to be a difficult day for the firemen.

Newman said "the first few days of the fire were up in the hills and timbers but when it was going across the grass chasing the fire trucks that was kind of scary."

No serious injuries were reported, but officials said a few individuals were airlifted out due to heat exhaustion and a back injury.

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