I am living in hell right now, and it's a damn scary place. I have no knowledge or wisdom to impart at this moment...I'm just too scared. This picture (taken by Con Marshall) is of a location 3 blocks south of my home last night; the tall building outlined is a student dormitory at Chadron State College. Thankfully, the fire was contained on this front before it breached the college buildings and could move into town. It is still raging out of control to the east and south of town and another fire is raging out of control to the south and west of town, as are two other large fires in the northwestern Panhandle region of Nebraska (USA) where I live. Pray for rain, little ones, lots and lots of rain....
Update 7/30/06: The town is safe, but the fire is raging out of control south of town, and all the homes and the state park in that area have been evacuated; three homes have been lost and four damaged so far. There is no end in sight - the fire incident commander says it could be 2 to 3 weeks before they have things under control, and that's assuming more fires don't start. The weather is not our friend right now. You can follow the news of these fires on our local radio station's web site at http://www.chadrad.com.
Should you feel so inclined, a fund has been set up to help those affected by all the fires in Dawes and Sioux Counties here in Nebraska:
In a press release delivered to KCSR radio Sunday morning (7/30/06) it was announced that a fund is being set up for both victims and the volunteers impacted by the recent wildfires in Dawes and Sioux Counties.
The release says the wildfires in Dawes and Sioux Counties have severely impacted many people, both the victims and volunteers. The communities recognize the financial burden and have established a relief fund. The purpose of the fund is to provide emergency financial relief and support to victims and volunteers impacted by the fires in Dawes and Sioux counties.
Financial donations may be sent or delivered to any financial institution in Dawes or Sioux counties. The donations may be also be mailed to Dawes-Sioux Fire Fund, P.O. Box 1125, Chadron, NE 69337, USA.
Update 7/31/06: Things are not a whole lot better today, I fear. Containment of the Spotted Tail fire (south east of Chadron) is happening, but the Roberts fire (south west of Chadron) is out of control and moving south and west and more people have been evacuated. But it's the town of Harrison (50 miles west of Chadron) that is directly in harm's way today. The Thayer fire (north east of Harrison) is growing in all directions and heading for Harrison; the entire town has been told to be ready to evacuate, and evacuation plans are in place. The Rudloff fire (further south east of Harrison) is out of control as well. The weather has changed, temperatures have dropped, humidity is up, but so are the winds. Thunderstorms are in the forecast, and while that does mean rain, it also means lightning....please, please, please keep praying for rain, little ones.
This photo is of "C Hill" on the south end of the CSC campus (taken by CSC staff), which was burned in the fire Friday night. I drove a short way south of town today and the entire landscape is black....it is a devastating site to see the forest we here in Chadron all love and live in destroyed.
Update 7/31/06, 10pm: Your prayers are working, little ones! The weather has turned cool, the winds have died down, and rain is forecast for tonight and tomorrow. All the areas that had been evacuated have been reopened. All the folks in the know say the worst of it *might* be over! A HUGE sigh of relief can be heard throughout the northern Nebraska panhandle. But just to be on the safe side, please keep those prayers coming, little ones....
Update 8/1/06, 9am: Things are looking SO good this morning! All of the major fires in the nothern Nebraska panhandle are under some level of containment. The mop up for the fires will likely take weeks, but the immediate danger is gone. The weather is cool and rainy across the area this morning, and this has allowed the firefighters to really get things under control. In fact, several of the firefighting teams are headed home today. Last night we drove around part of the burned area (just south of the college campus, where 3 homes were lost, and east of town); the devastation of the area is heartbreaking. The fire burned so hot and so fast that in some areas it burned the pine forest quite literally to ashes; however, in other areas the trees are still standing, though the likelihood that they will die off over time is high. The wildlife that was forced out of the fire areas is all over the place near, and in, town. I think we'll all be dealing with deer, turkeys, little critters, and lots more birds in town until next spring when the grasses at least grow back. I will eventually get some picture up of what it looks like around here now.
The local radio station's web site crashed yesterday because it was getting 400,000 hits per hour, so they had to remove the picture galleries for now. You can find pictures and information of the fire on campus on the CSC web site at http://www2.csc.edu/news/list.pl?article=1517, and information and pictures of the Dawes County fires at http://www.inciweb.org/incident/368/.
Thank you all for your prayers, little ones; now, send out a huge shout of thanks to all the firefighters and volunteers who have worked so hard for us here in the northern Nebraska panhandle. I am quite convinced they are all angels!