Area Firefighter Dies

Area Firefighter Dies in the Line of Duty during Wildfires in Washington County

March 11, 2021.

Nebraska’s longest serving paramedic died yesterday in the line of duty.


Ponca Hills Volunteer firefighter Dennis Bender, aged 78 suffered a medical episode while fighting a large wildfire near Boyer Chute yesterday afternoon. Fort Calhoun’s fire chief, Joel Sacks says Bender served his community for a half a century.


High winds and dry vegetation from past flooding contributed to the scale and acceleration of that fire in which 13 fire departments responded – including Ponca Hills, Fort Calhoun, Blair, Kennard, Tekamah, National Wildlife, Bennington, Omaha, Boys Town, Waterloo, Valley and Irvington.


Another large fire was underway yesterday afternoon southwest of Blair near County Roads 36 and 31– a structure fire sparked dry cropland and burned several acres. Blair, Bennington, Ponca Hills, Fort Calhoun, Kennard, Herman and the Washington County Sheriff’s office worked that fire yesterday afternoon.


Those same dry windy conditions also contributed to wildfires in Bennington, as well as in Saunders County, and at Treynor and Essex in Iowa.

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