Interior Fire Chief receives national award for bravery

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 10:37 AM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Cliff McClure, Fire Chief of the Interior South Dakota Volunteer Fire Department is being rewarded the Department of the Interior’s Citizen’s Award for Bravery.

United States Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland is recognizing McClure with this honor which goes to one private citizen for heroic acts or unusual bravery in the face of danger, and for having risked their lives to save the lives of other individuals.

Chief McClure was involved in a blizzard rescue to save a stranded family on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2016, near the Badlands National Park. The family’s vehicle had become immobilized in a snow bank with a dislodged door. Severe wind and snow was entering the vehicle rendering it useless as an effective shelter. This was a life and death situation.

Chief McClure, along with Badlands National Park Rangers, Daniel Baker and Christopher Mengak, formed a team that took over a three hour battle against darkness, snow, wind and zero visibility, before reaching the location of the family. Chief McClure used his own private tractor to plow through drifts while rangers Baker and Mengak used a track equipped UTV to follow and transport the family to safety. The Rangers additionally provided emergency care to the family members who suffered frostbite to their hands and feet. When asked about his participation in the hours long rescue, Chief McClure stated. “Though I appreciate the recognition from Secretary Haaland, more importantly it was a true team work effort with Badland National Park Rangers, Baker and Mengak, they deserve this award as much as anyone”.

The National Park Service has indicated the Rangers will be recognized for their life saving actions during this rescue at a later date. Honorees receive a special certificate, medal and citation signed by Secretary Haaland.

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