Columbus Fire Department officials believe a lit cigarette and high winds are what caused a fire on the east side of town Thursday evening.
At about 5:45 p.m. Thursday, April 13th, 2023, CFD received a call about a field fire near the First Avenue and 8th Street intersection area. The fire quickly spread, getting near SE Calle Colombo Street. Fortunately, according to Columbus Assistant Fire Chief Nathan Jones, rescue officials stepped up and spent several hours extinguishing the fire without any injuries or extensive damage.
“We had a great turnout from our on and off duty career personnel, City paid-reserve firefighters and Columbus Rural Fire Protection District members,” Jones said, noting officials left the scene about 8:15 p.m. “We did not have to evacuate anyone, though some people did so on their own and that’s great.”
Jones said he believes some smoke got into homes in the area, but that nothing was directly reported to CFD.
The assistant chief said he believes the wind picked up embers off a lit cigarette and carried them into the field, causing the fire.
The fire came on the heels of Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen declaring a state of emergency across Nebraska Thursday afternoon, as multiple volunteer fire departments and other agencies continue to battle various wildfires. The governor later announced Thursday he issued an executive order banning all open burns in Nebraska until April 16.
Jones stressed that residents should be cautious when using or doing anything that requires fire, such as barbecuing.
“We encourage our citizens to be mindful of how they dispose of smoking material and take caution when using outdoor cooking equipment,” he said.
The fire is not under investigation, Jones said, as officials believe it to be accidental in nature.