It appears that the Bovee fire which started about 1:30 Sunday afternoon at Halsey National Forest was brought under control by firefighters overnight or early Monday morning. The fire reportedly burned the 4-H lodge at Halsey Forest and some other buildings as well. Valentine Fire Department sent 4 trucks and 11 firefighters yesterday afternoon with relief crews sent this morning. Numerous departments responded to fight the blaze along with hundreds of volunteers with ranch fire rigs. At 7:30 last evening the fire was estimated at 15,000 acres. Highway 2 was closed because of heavy emergency traffic in the area. Highway 2 reopened to traffic this morning. The fire is believed to have been human caused, possibly from an ATV. The forest was evacuated which had numerous hunters and recreational vehicle enthusiasts. The town of Halsey was also evacuated for a time.
A Nebraska National Forest and Grasslands spokesperson said the State 4-H Camp lodge and cabins were destroyed but the historic Charles E. Bessey Tree Nursery was saved. “The Eppley lodge as well as the cabins are a complete loss; it appears that the only structure remaining is the staff house. All of those on site were safely evacuated.” They also reported that the Scout Lookout tower was destroyed.
There have been unconfirmed reports of a death related to fighting the fire. A possible heart attack.