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Fires, power outages reported as winds reach 50-60 mph in Omaha metro area

Fires, power outages reported as winds reach 50-60 mph in Omaha metro area

A grassfire shut down I-80 for a short time on Thursday.

Fire departments worked to extinguish multiple fires in the Omaha metro area and nearby counties Wednesday.

By about 4 p.m., Omaha firefighters had responded to a trash fire at Pipal Park near 78th Street and West Center Road, a transformer box fire at a Bucky’s Convenience Store in North Omaha and a large brush fire east of Fort Calhoun, according to a Douglas County emergency dispatcher.

The fire near Fort Calhoun was under control by 6 p.m., according to Fort Calhoun Fire and Rescue.

High winds, low relative humidity and dry conditions led the National Weather Service to warn residents of southeast Nebraska and southwest Iowa to watch out for possible grassfires.

A wind advisory was issued for much of the area by the weather service office in Valley. Burning bans were in place in several counties because fires could quickly get out of control.

Winds throughout the day ranged from 50 mph to 60 mph, said Bryon Miller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Valley. Winds were expected to die down Wednesday evening.

Besides fires in Douglas County and near Fort Calhoun, Miller said multiple fires could be seen by satellite in southwest Iowa.

The Omaha Public Power District said winds caused up to 5,200 customers to lose power at one point. Causes for outages in North Omaha and Plattsmouth ranged from broken crossbars, tree limbs in power lines and a twisted cross arm.

Winds Thursday should be 10 mph to 15 mph, and the high in Omaha is expected to be 54 degrees.

The chance of fires should tamp down over the weekend as widespread precipitation arrives.

Several rounds of precipitation are expected from Saturday through early next week. Some of that precipitation will come in the form of heavy rain, but several inches of snow also are possible in parts of the area, with the main uncertainty being where that snow will fall, meteorologist Becky Kern said.

Denver, she said, looks to get a lot of snow.

Our best Omaha staff photos of March 2021,


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Jessica Wade covers breaking news, crime and the Omaha zoo. Follow her on Twitter @Jess_Wade_OWH. Phone: 402-444-1067

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