A wildfire that has burned about 4,000 acres has threatened farmsteads, ranches and agriculture properties in western Nebraska.
The fire, dubbed the Hubbard Gap Fire, is burning in the Wildcat Hills south of McGrew, which is about 18 miles southeast of Scottsbluff.
Air support from Nebraska and South Dakota has dropped retardant to stop the spread of the fire, according to a news release from the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency. Two Nebraska Army National Guard helicopters and 11 soldiers are on their way to continue air support.
About 25 volunteer fire departments staged in a field south of McGrew to fight the fire. Six firefighters were injured. Two of the six were hospitalized overnight.
Banner County commissioners declared a local emergency, and Gov. Pete Ricketts approved a state emergency declaration, which allows state funds to be used to fight the fire.
Meanwhile, officials with the Nebraska National Forests & Grasslands are urging visitors to help prevent wildfires ahead of the Labor Day holiday. Fire danger in forests is rated as very high, officials said.
Forests has had a total of 11 fires this year. Four were caused by humans, and seven were caused by lightning.
Visitors should be aware of fire restrictions and know that target shooting and use of power equipment can spark a wildfire. Campfires should be kept small, fully extinguished and never left unattended. Fireworks and exploding targets are not allowed on national forest system lands.