It was another day of progress at the Legion Lake Fire. Governor Dennis Daugaard was on site Friday to thank all those who have aided in fighting the fire. Jon Wilson was takes you to the scene as crews continue to tackle the blaze.
Firefighters continue to make progress on the Legion Lake Fire, which has charred over 50,000 acres. At Friday morning's briefing, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard had some words for those who've spent nearly the last week fighting the blaze.
South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard says, "Fifty percent of the crew is made up of volunteer firefighters and professional firefighters from all over this area and even parts of eastern South Dakota and other states, so I wanted to thank them."
As crews continue to gain ground, the most talked about point at the briefing was not letting your guard down, because things could escalate again if not managed properly.
Engine Boss from the Miller Fire Department Arlen Gortmaker says, "If we get a wind event, it could throw embers over the line, it could start a spot fire if we don't see it downsizing. It's a big area, 50,000+ acres, just paying attention to where everything is at. So you got the wind, you got snags, you got trees that burn out on the bottom and tip over the line back up in there where it's foot traffic only, so those are some of the things we got to watch."
Black Hills FOX's Jon Wilson says, "The flames came close to many homes and also many buildings here within Custer State Park, just like the Custer State Park Administrative Office you see here behind me."
Just several outbuildings and some fencing have been destroyed from now the third largest fire in history within the Black Hills. For the ranchers that lost fencing, or other property in the blaze, Daugaard says relief will come after FEMA does its analysis.
As the blaze is getting controlled, more resources have been able to focus on the wildlife in the park.
Resource Program Manager at Custer State Park Mark Hendrix says, "We're worried about the majority of the buffalo that were down here in the southern part of the park around the Wildlife Visitor Center, and that area that was affected by the fire. So that's why we're starting with these ones first. We'll probably keep these in for a couple weeks just to monitor their health, just to make sure if anything does get sick, we can try to treat them."
For safety precautions, a veterinarian will check out the animals and give them shots to protect against pneumonia after likely smoke and ash inhalation.
Hendrix says the bison are noticeably worn out after fleeing the fire, and that they were ready to eat and drink when they were brought into the corrals. The park says there are no known wildlife deaths as of now, and that crews will continue to roundup the bison for evaluation. They say pronghorn, elk, and deer herds appear to be doing fine, but have found five burrows that sustained burns.
As of Friday evening, the acreage was at 53,875, with containment increasing to 80%.