Volunteer firefighter, 59, dies from heart attack while battling massive forest fire in Nebraska

Volunteer firefighter, 59, dies from heart attack while battling massive forest fire in Nebraska
(Representative picture, AFP via Getty Images)

HALSEY, NEBRASKA: A 59-year-old volunteer firefighter died while tackling a fast spreading forest fire in Nebraska.
 
According to the Associated Press, Mike Moody of the Purdum Volunteer Fire Department died on Sunday, October 2, after experiencing a medical emergency while fighting the Bovee Fire. The fire was initially reported in the Bessey Ranger District of the Nebraska National Forest earlier that day, having burned 100 acres.

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As per authorities, Moody was associated with the fire department for over 40 years and was once the department's chief. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts wrote in a Facebook post on Monday, October 3, "Please join me in prayer for the family of Purdum Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Mike Moody, and the entire Purdum community, as they mourn his loss," adding, "[My wife] and I are also praying for the first responders continuing to fight the Bovee Fire near Halsey."

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According to ABC affiliate KLKN, Moody had experienced a heart attack. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, October 4, the Bovee Fire burned through approximately 15,000 acres and is 30% contained, as per Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands. Cool temperatures and light rainfall helped firefighters in battling the disaster.
 
As per the Associated Press, more than 200 emergency personnel are fighting the Bovee Fire, which was "human-caused" and is currently under investigation. The Nebraska State 4-H Camp confirmed that most of the camp’s buildings, including its main lodge and all of its youth cabins, were destroyed in the fire, as was a popular observation tower in the Bessey Ranger District.

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Evacuations in the area have been underway, according to Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands. Officials also cleared the small village of Halsey, which houses about 65 people. Authorities also shut down a section of state Highway 2 as smoke from the fire reduced visibility. The highway was reopened by Monday, October 3.

The latest update by the authorities sheds light on the progress made by the firefighters and urges people to not pose a problem as they work. The post read, "Firefighters are making good progress securing containment lines on the west side of the fire. In Division Lima, crews are cleaning up hot spots in shelterbelt timber stringers."

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The post added, "There have been several reports of sightseers driving into the fire closure area. Please, heed forest closures and stay out of the way of firefighters. Give them the space they need to do their work safely, without distraction or disruption."


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The Rocky Mountain Complex Incident Management Team said, "Dozers, engines and hand crews made good progress on fireline construction on the northern and eastern flanks of the fire, and work began on the western side," as per KOLN. No other injuries have been reported as a result of the fire.

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