Hallie Gutzwiller, a senior broadcasting major won first place in the 2023 Hearst Audio Competition with "Wildfires Nebraska" and "Water Preservation."
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- [00:00:01.049](birds chirping)
- [00:00:02.070]In a highly agricultural state like Nebraska,
- [00:00:04.890]where 92% of our land is farmland,
- [00:00:07.977](fire crackling)
a wildfire is the last thing
- [00:00:09.510]any of us want to happen.
- [00:00:11.370]Brother's kids' trampoline had blown over.
- [00:00:13.200]So I took a picture and when I looked at the picture,
- [00:00:16.770]it was clearly smoke north of us.
- [00:00:18.510]This is Furnas County farmer, Dane Tenbensel,
- [00:00:21.450]who lost 17,000 acres of cropland
- [00:00:24.630]due to a wildfire in the spring
- [00:00:26.550]that later was named the 739 Fire.
- [00:00:29.490]Yeah I mean, it was flames shooting across the road
- [00:00:31.890]and pretty much chased us out of that area
- [00:00:35.250]and the smoke, you couldn't even see in front of you.
- [00:00:38.040]9-1-1. What is the location of your emergency?
- [00:00:40.140]I'm in Banner County,
- [00:00:41.310]two wildfires that just started based on lightning.
- [00:00:44.280]An Omaha World Herald Story deems this year
- [00:00:47.010]as the deadliest year on record for Nebraska.
- [00:00:50.603]Banner County, we've got three fires out here now.
- [00:00:53.130]Three firefighters lives were taken
- [00:00:55.110]and several others injured.
- [00:00:56.670]The wind is coming up and it's headed towards our house.
- [00:00:59.610]It's moving so fast that the fire trucks were getting
- [00:01:02.070]split by the fire.
(radio tone rings)
- [00:01:03.420]Attention. Minatare Fire Department Mutual Aid request
- [00:01:06.180]for grass fire in the Wild Cat Hills--
- [00:01:07.950]It's no easy tragedy to overcome
- [00:01:10.050]and one that might not have been avoidable
- [00:01:12.360]as climatologist Curtis Reganti says,
- [00:01:15.037]"This year is just favorable for wildfire conditions."
- [00:01:18.720]A lot of the dry conditions over most
- [00:01:20.610]of the state really started late last fall
- [00:01:23.460]and then lasted through the spring
- [00:01:24.900]and then especially the summer outside the month of June.
- [00:01:27.900]The Nebraska Forest Service
- [00:01:29.550]says 200,000 acres of grassland, cropland and forest
- [00:01:34.800]were burned, which made many farmers, like Tenbensel,
- [00:01:38.130]hopeless for a good harvest.
- [00:01:40.260]We harvested what we could
- [00:01:42.030]but it was pretty much, there was nothing out there.
- [00:01:44.640]Operation Manager Brent Curtis
- [00:01:46.680]for Nebraska Emergency Management Agency
- [00:01:49.500]says that this year has certainly had its ups and downs
- [00:01:52.800]but it has not been the toughest.
- [00:01:54.540]2012 was a very bad year for wildfires.
- [00:01:57.030]We lost over a quarter million acres to wildfires that year.
- [00:02:00.150]With this being Nebraska's second worst year
- [00:02:02.430]for wildfires, and the deadliest,
- [00:02:04.890]Curtis says lots of changes have been made.
- [00:02:07.890]For a minimum of 90 days a year,
- [00:02:09.930]Nebraska contracts a single engine air tanker
- [00:02:12.600]which is basically a
- [00:02:13.433]heavily modified crop duster.
(phone number pad beeping)
- [00:02:15.450]This is made available to where fires
- [00:02:17.400]are most likely to occur
- [00:02:19.170]and help to suppress the fires that quickly spread.
- [00:02:22.110]Scott Buffer on Mutual Aid with Banner County--
- [00:02:24.106](fire crackling)
- [00:02:25.110]sometimes nothing can prepare you for what a wildfire
- [00:02:28.050]can do to a land in a matter of minutes.
- [00:02:30.420]There's no residue and it's hard as a rock.
- [00:02:32.880]It's gonna take a few years to kind of recover.
- [00:02:35.310]According to Rocky Mountain Research Center,
- [00:02:37.590]wildfires like these can reach up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
- [00:02:41.850]causing the surface of the soil to char.
- [00:02:44.610]For Tenbensel, this led to a loss
- [00:02:46.770]of ten years worth of soil residue.
- [00:02:49.410]We were trying to do anything we could to stop the dirt
- [00:02:51.660]and anything blowing off of what had been burnt.
- [00:02:54.960]While this is not ideal
- [00:02:56.160]for a state like Nebraska, Reganti says
- [00:02:58.980]warming temperatures are a trend in the future.
- [00:03:01.830]And as for precipitation,
- [00:03:03.183]it will likely vary from year to year.
- [00:03:05.520]I hope the weather pattern changes a little bit so,
- [00:03:08.160]it's always raining somewhere.
- [00:03:09.360]We've got fire approaching.
- [00:03:11.610]For 90.3 KRNU, I'm Holly Gossweiler.
- [00:03:14.820]Full of fires out here.
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