CUSTER STATE PARK, S.D. – Late Tuesday evening, high wind gusts aligned with the canyon in the French Creek Natural Area and caused spotting in several areas west of the Wildlife Loop Road. The spotting moved across the Wildlife Loop Road and out of the Custer State Park Boundary creating rapid fire growth.
The Legion Lake Fire, now in its third day, grew overnight to an estimated 31,000 acres, bringing the total acreage to an estimated 35,000. Containment remains at seven percent.
Firefighters from local, state and federal agencies were utilized for structure defense, east past the Custer State Park boundary, down Lame Johnny Road to the intersection of Highway 79. The fire was held west of Highway 79 due to successful burnouts.
Another spot fire by French Creek Horse Camp moved south, southeast through Custer State Park. Due to the rates of spread, fire behavior, numerous values at risk and structure protection elsewhere, active suppression actions were not attempted.
The fire traveled south, moving through Wind Cave National Park, reaching just west of Buffalo Gap on Road 101 (also known as 7-11 road).
A burnout operation around the State Game Lodge area for structure protection began late Tuesday evening into early morning and has been successful.
No primary structures were compromised throughout the night, but there have been outbuilding and fences lost.
Highway 79 remains closed from Hermosa to Hot Springs. Evacuations for the towns of Fairburn and Buffalo Gap remain current.
Main objectives for Wednesday include analyzing and mapping the exact location of the fire growth, keeping the fire east of Highway 87, active suppression, structure defense, creation of dozer lines and retardant drops throughout the day as conditions allow. Burnout operations around the State Game Lodge area will also continue as conditions allow.
Winds will remain out of the northwest at 15 to 25 miles per hour with gusts up to 40 miles per hour. The temperature is predicted to reach 45 degrees.
Fire Desk information and updates can be provided by emailing LegionLakeFire@gmail.com or by calling 605.646.3263.