Nebraska's Wellnitz Fire on Pine Ridge Reservation Nearly Contained, Authorities Say

A Nebraska wildfire that bled onto the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and destroyed two homes while torching 27,000 acres had been 74 percent contained by Tuesday September 3, authorities announced.

Charred remains were what was left of a chunk of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on Tuesday September 4 after a Nebraska wildfire bled over the state border onto Oglala Sioux territory during the weekend.

The Wellnitz fire had been 74 percent contained as of Tuesday afternoon September 4, according to InciWeb, the incident reporting service, but not before destroying two homes on the reservation.

Numerous communities were evacuated over the weekend as the fire ripped through “rugged ponderosa pine country,” as InciWeb described it. The fire burned about 27,000 acres of the reservation, InciWeb said.

“On behalf of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, I would like to say how proud I am of our firefighters for their brave and courageous actions taken in protecting our tribal homelands and minimizing the destruction of homes in the past couple of days,” said Oglala Sioux Tribe President John Yellow Bird Steele in a statement on September 3.

Fire was still flaring in the Slim Buttes area on Tuesday September 4, Steele and InciWeb said, but the worst was quelled, and mop-up operations had begun. Also assisting were the Eastern Band of Cherokee out of North Carolina and the Crow Creek Agency of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in South Dakota, InciWeb said.

The Red Cloud Indian School was spared, though flames came within a few miles of it, according to the school’s Facebook page.