Lightning starts fire
Southwest Nebraska enjoyed a respite from triple-digit temperatures today, with highs predicted "only" for the mid-80s. Official highs of 106 on Friday, 107 on Saturday and 103 Sunday contributed to tinderbox conditions on top of the area's drought.
As a thunderstorm drifted over McCook on Saturday evening -- without dropping any significant rain -- lightning started a grass fire about 9 p.m., Saturday, in pasture land seven miles southwest of McCook.
Red Willow Western Fire Chief Bill Elliott said about 150 acres burned.
"It was tough to keep it out because of smoldering soapweeds," Elliott said.
The pasture is owned by Angus Garey. A neighbor, Mike Macfee, reported the lightning strike and fire.
Firefighters put out a second, smaller fire along the county road en route back to the fire station. Saturday's high of 103 was the unofficial national high temperature.