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Chief says cigarette likely started Thursday evening fire near Gothenburg

30-40 acres of marsh-type area burned
Fire 3-4 miles east of Gothenburg, Thursday night. The fire, located in a marshy area, was out within three hours.
Fire 3-4 miles east of Gothenburg, Thursday night. The fire, located in a marshy area, was out within three hours.
Gothenburg Fire Department

GOTHENBURG, Neb. (KNOP) - The Gothenburg Volunteer Fire Department fought a second fire near their city in two nights on Thursday. Fire Chief Mark Ballmer says he believes a cigarette is to blame for both fires.

No injuries, and no structural damage in either, the volunteer firefighters put out the earlier fire south of town between Gothenburg and Farnam along Highway 47 before it crossed the fence line into the pasture. The fire burned bromegrass between the ditch and the fence on Wednesday.

On Thursday around 9:15 p.m. the volunteers were paged to what was called a “tractor fire,” but Chief Ballmer said it was likely a discarded cigarette. The second of the two fires, burned 30-40 acres about three to four miles east of Gothenburg along Highway 30 and the “old highway.” Chief Ballmer explained the biggest challenge in the area is the high water table making it difficult to take firetrucks into.

With the canal on one side and the road on the other, and the fire burning mostly cattails and phragmites, the fire was allowed to burn out.

Chief Ballmer said he is grateful for the help from area farmers, using tractors and disks to help control the burn. It took about three hours by the time the volunteers were able to return their trucks to the fire hall in Gothenburg, by around midnight.