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Northern Black Hills fire only 5 percent contained

SPEARFISH, S.D. -- About 470 firefighters from Alaska to Michigan are fighting a pesky fire in the northwestern Black Hills near Spearfish that covers about 1,200 acres of forestland and is only 5 percent contained.

As of Wednesday night, about 10 homes, cabins or other structures were in immediate danger in the Crow Peak fire area about four miles west of Spearfish and have been evacuated.

Public information officer Brenda Bowen said all of the occupants of the homes in possible danger have voluntarily evacuated. She said some of the structures were simply summer cabins and were unoccupied.

“So far we haven’t lost any structures,” Bowen said.

The majority of the fire is burning in the Black Hills National Forest, although about 12 percent is on state or private land, said Bowen.

Crews as of Wednesday had set up about five miles of containment lines using graders and other methods in attempts to stop the fire.

Fire officials continue to use helicopters and airplanes to attack the fire from the air. On Monday, for example, approximately 125,000 gallons of water were used to slow the spread of the fire.

Five “hot shot” crews from Alaska, Colorado and the Black Hills have been on the scene since the fire broke out last Friday from a lightning strike. Several other 20-member fire crews from across the northern U.S. are also on the scene.

Officials met with area residents in Spearfish on Wednesday night to discuss the situation.

Coordinating the firefighting has been the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team Black, one of two that work in the South Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming and Kansas area to fight any possible wildfires.

The Black Hills region and others parts of western South Dakota have been parched in recent weeks due to a lack of rainfall.

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