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Huge Black Hills wildfire 53 percent contained

A scene from the Custer State Park fire this week. Submitted photo
 

CUSTER, S.D. --  An estimated 230 firefighters appear to be getting a handle on the wildfire that has been raging across Custer State Park in the southern Black Hills as of Friday, Dec. 15, with snow in the forecast for the weekend.

The Legion Lake fire that has burned an estimated 53,875 acres since Monday was listed as 53 percent contained, a big improvement since the figure was at only 7 percent on Wednesday.

Public information officer Erin Considine said “it’s looking real good” and firefighters, some of whom were being sent home Friday night, believe they have the Black Hills’ third largest fire in modern history contained.

Considine said the firefighters did an “amazing job” as they protected cabins, private homes and the landmark State Game Lodge hotel and restaurant in the heart of the park from being damaged.

Two small towns that were once threatened -- Buffalo Gap and Fairburn -- both with about 100 residents each -- also were spared.  Evacuation orders for the towns and other homes in the area have been lifted, Considine said.

One concern is the park’s buffalo herd of about 1,300. Even though they migrated away from the fire, park officials were still worried about their health so they were rounded up and are undergoing vaccinations for pneumonia.

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