LEXINGTON — Power lines whipping about from Saturday’s high winds launched a fire that destroyed the equipment shed at Mac’s Creek Winery and Brewery, vineyard manager Seth McFarland said.
All the vineyard’s equipment was destroyed in the Saturday night blaze at the winery, located just north of Lexington and east of Nebraska Highway 21. No one was injured.
McFarland, a Mac’s Creek co-owner, said Lexington volunteer firefighters traced the fire to power lines that began arcing and sparking in the wind, struck a tree and set it ablaze.
The Lexington airport recorded wind gusts as high as 55 mph Saturday from the south end of a storm that buried the Panhandle and northern Sandhills in blizzard-driven snow.
The destroyed equipment shed was located on the southwest side of Mac’s Creek, some distance from the main building. It housed mowers, tractors, sprayers, loaders and the vineyard’s other equipment, along with overflow storage.
Lexington volunteer Fire Chief Dahlas Holbein said his department sent four trucks, an ambulance and 25 firefighters when the fire was reported at 11:15 p.m. Saturday. The Dawson County Sheriff’s Office and Dawson Public Power District crews also responded.
When they arrived, the fire had spread to several poles in the vineyard and was threatening a diesel storage tank which was 50 feet away from the building.
Firefighters sought to keep a propane tank near the blaze cool and shut off the flow of gas to the tank, Holbein said.
The high winds were blowing embers from the fire well across County Road 757 south of the winery. Holbein said firefighters stationed a truck there to keep the fire from spreading to neighboring properties.
When the last truck left the scene around 2:30 a.m., firefighters had been on the scene about three hours. “We are glad no one was hurt,” Holbein said.
McFarland said Mac’s Creek had not calculated total damage as of Monday morning. It was “hard to say” how the fire would affect next year’s growing season, he said.
“We will notice the change in logistics,” he added, but “we will figure out a way to keep going.”
McFarland expressed winery owners' and employees’ “endless gratitude” to Lexington’s volunteer firefighters for containing the fire and Dawson County sheriff’s deputies for keeping everyone safe.
Lexington residents have been pouring out their support, he added, with people extending their best wishes and offering to help in any way they can.
“We are very appreciative,” McFarland said. “We have a lot to be thankful for, which is appropriate this time of year.”