Fire scorches thousands of acres in western Harvey County

Chad Frey
The sun sets on the Wheat State Fire, a grass fire that scorched thousands of acres of farmland in western Harvey County this weekend.

A grass fire scorched thousands of acres of farmland in Harvey County this weekend.

More than 20 departments responded to the fire in northwest Harvey County. The initial call reporting the fire came into Harvey County Emergency Communications at 12:44 p.m. Saturday.

Within hours, about 700 acres of pastureland had burned. That had grown to as much as 7,000 acres by Sunday morning, and the fire was named “the Wheat State Fire.”

National Guard Black Hawk helicopters were on scene to drop buckets of water to fight the flames.

The fire did jump Burmac Road headed east, but was contained quickly on the side of the road. It also jumped N.W. 48th, a narrow gravel road at that location, to burn portions of a field in that area. A home/farmstead at the intersection of N.W. 48th and Burmac was unharmed, saved by firefighting crews who defended it.

A number of older, large trees along Burmac fell to the ground and were consumed by the fire. They were still smoldering on Sunday morning. Fire crews were on scene for containment efforts through Monday morning.

A cause has not been determined and there are no mandatory evacuations, but some people have evacuated their homes nearby.

The Wheat State Fire is the largest in Harvey County since 2016, when more than 15 square miles of western Harvey County went up in smoke the week before Easter. In 2016, the Harvey County Sheriff’s Department issued voluntary evacuation warnings, with about a dozen homes evacuated. In Harvey County, one home was destroyed. The fire scorched 12,000 acres of pasture land in Harvey County, about one-fifth of the total agricultural land of Harvey County, according to county Farm Service Agency executive director Jack Kelly.

A fire that started near N.W. 48th and Burmac Road on Saturday consumed thousands of acres of farm ground and felled trees in its path.