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Neighbors and strangers rallying to help Nebraska farmer whose harvesting equipment burned

Neighbors and strangers rallying to help Nebraska farmer whose harvesting equipment burned

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LINCOLN — Neighbors and strangers are rallying to help a farmer from Henderson, Nebraska, who lost an estimated $300,000 to $400,000 worth of harvesting equipment in a suspicious fire.

Jonathan Rempel, a fourth-generation farmer, said Tuesday that he's hearing from farmers from as far away as Kansas and North Dakota who are planning to participate in a harvesting bee this weekend to bring in his crops.

Henderson is about 20 miles southwest of York.

"God is good," Rempel said. "The American people are great. So often, we're focused on the 1% who are bad."

The Nebraska State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the cause of a Thursday morning fire that destroyed a combine, two semitrailer trucks and a tractor attached to a grain cart. Rempel had parked all of them in a remote field. 

In a Facebook post, Rempel said he had parked the equipment "at a safe distance from each other," yet all burned. The odds of someone finding the remote field where the equipment was parked, he said Tuesday, were "about none."

The combine had two Trump flags on it, but Rempel declined to say if that was a factor and declined to speculate whether the fire was intentionally set. 

"You tell me," he said of any political motivation, adding that he's letting investigators determine what happened. 

Monday, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts mentioned the investigation into the fire when asked at a press conference about vandalism being done to Trump flags and other political signs.

Ricketts called for civility in respecting people's political views. He said those who vandalize political signs were "anti-American" and "people who hate our country."

"We've got to remember, we've got to live together here," the Republican governor said.

Jacob Zlatkovsky, an assistant investigator with the Fire Marshal's Office, declined to comment on the ongoing investigation and the "immense" news media interest.

Rempel said he expects six to 10 combines to arrive Saturday morning to help him bring in his crops. Tuesday morning, he was driving a borrowed combine to harvest a cornfield.

More than 500 donors had responded to a GoFundMe page by midmorning Tuesday, donating more than $39,000 to help Rempel replace his equipment.

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