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National Guard helicopters deployed to battle fires in Nebraska sparked by lightning
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National Guard helicopters deployed to battle fires in Nebraska sparked by lightning

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National Guard

Soldiers flying a Nebraska Army National Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopter above the Brush Creek fire drop water from their 2,000-gallon bucket on Friday.

Nebraska National Guard helicopter crews and support personnel helped battle fires in north-central Nebraska that were sparked by multiple lightning strikes on Wednesday.

Severe weather triggered at least 20 different fires in the area, Seth Peterson of the Nebraska Forest Service said. 

As of Friday, the fires were 95% contained, according to a news release from the National Guard.

The largest fire has burned approximately 6,000 acres near where Brush Creek crosses Nebraska 11 in northern Holt County, Peterson said.

Gov. Pete Ricketts activated two National Guard helicopter crews to provide additional aerial firefighting capabilities at the request of local authorities in the north-central Nebraska counties.

Eleven soldiers deployed Thursday evening from the Army Aviation Support Facility in Grand Island with one CH-47 Chinook helicopter, one UH-72 Lakota helicopter and one fuel truck.

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Both helicopters are equipped with water buckets.

As of Friday morning, the National Guard crews had completed 34 drops totaling more than 23,000 gallons of water to battle the flames.  

Approximately 10 volunteer fire departments, including two from South Dakota, have assisted in battling the fires.

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