UPDATED: Firefighters taming Legion Lake blaze

CUSTER STATE PARK (KEVN) - It's one of the largest wildfires the Black Hills has ever seen -- but the area is on the road to recovery.

The Legion Lake Fire caused by downed power lines is 50% contained according to officials, and crews from all over with the help of the community are working to tame it completely.

After taking the Black Hills by storm and reaching nearly 48,000 acres,
more than 200 firefighters are still working to bring the Legion Lake Fire to an end.

They were able to burn out fire that came out on the South side of the park Wednesday. Officials say the snow that came along that night however, was a big help for stopping fire expansion.

Rob Powell, Incident Commander for the Legion Lake Fire, says
"We're in really good shape, really good shape compared to what we were two days ago. I was pretty ticked with the work that was done yesterday by the firefighters out there and we've turned a corner on this."

Thursday's plan perform burnouts along Highway 87 towards Wind Cave National Park, address problems with creeks and drainage, and
bring the fire down off the scenic ridge of Highway 16A.

With no livestock fatalities in the park reported and a couple of minor firefighters injuries, restoration teams also turned their attention to protecting essential structures in the area.

Tim Daly, Structure Protection Group Supervisor, "Certainly the game lodge, state park office, Coolidge General Store, Blue Bell, you know there's numerous ones that had protection around them."

He also says owners having a hand in this can assist even more.

Daly continues, "We always say if the homeowners and folks who live in those places can do some work ahead of time, you know to make there house more defendable, that's going to benefit us.

as well as donations for hay to supply the Bison.
Incident Commander says private land ranchers east of the park have lost 7,000 acres of land.

Powell continues, "they took a big hit, they lost fences, they lost outbuildings, it was not good for them especially this year."

but as for park restoration, officials say tourists should keep their plans locked in because although it will take time, they are certainly looking for things to be back in place next spring.

Jay Esperance, says "Don't change your plans, just because there was smoke in the air, folks in the Black Hills want people to come."


The Legion Lake Fire did not break out of fire lines Wednesday night and firefighters have 50 percent containment.

Officials believe they now have a handle on the 47,500-acre fire and could possibly start releasing some of the 200 firefighters on scene.

Still, according to Custer County Emergency Management, none of the existing evacuation orders from Wednesday have been canceled.

However, the American Red Cross has closed the Hermosa emergency shelter. The Red Cross will continue to work with emergency staffs to assist communities if more needs arise. People affected by the Legion Lake Fire who are in need of immediate assistance may call a 24-hour disaster assistance line at (844) 292-7677.

The fire was caused by a downed power line, according to incident commander Rob Powell of Rocky Mountain Team Blue.