Monday, July 23, 2012

North Central Nebraska wildfire sparked by lightning now raging; 7-mile front; five times larger than Colorado Springs fire; 150 square miles already burnt

UPDATE: Revised estimate of damage.
The Fairfield Creek wildfire/s have leaped across the Niobrara river, claiming rancher homes and a even a firetruck. Firefighters are battling the inferno — and 100-degree weather. Apache helicopters have been dispatched by the National Guard to help. From Reuters:
The fire initially was reported Friday north of Johnstown, Neb., along Fairfield Creek, a tributary of the Niobrara River. It is near the Nature Conservancy's 56,000-acre Niobrara Valley Preserve, one of the organization's largest preserves in the United States.
     Flames jumped the Niobrara and raced 6 miles north to Norden across sparsely populated Keya Paha County. The county has a population of 1.1 people per square mile.
From NASA: The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this image of wildfires burning near the border of Nebraska and South Dakota on July 22, 2012. The red outlines indicate hot spots where MODIS detected unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fires. The blaze in South Dakota—the Longhorn Complex fire—began on July 19 and had burned through nearly 30 square miles (78 square kilometers) by the afternoon of July 23. The fire in Nebraska—the Fairfield Creek Fire—was reported on July 20 and had burned over 150 square miles (388 square kilometers). Both fires were fueled in part by the broad drought that has affected the central United States in recent months.

That drought has damaged almost 90% of corn and soybean crops in the US.
     Food made with corn, corn syrup, ethanol-blended gasoline, soybeans and soybean oil will rise with the skyrocketing prices of the two crops. Rain is expected this week, but it won't help early-planted corn already pollinated during the height of the hot weather drought.
     Late-planted corn and much of the nation's soybean crop will find some relief.

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