Above: The Legion Lake Fire off Lame Johnny Road in the southern portion of the fire not far from Highway 79 December 14, 2017.
(Originally published at 2:42 p.m. MST December 15, 2017)
Firefighters are beginning to get a handle on the Legion Lake Fire burning in the Black Hills of South Dakota in both Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park. After conducting burnout operations on the east and west sides, and corralling a slopover on the southwest corner, the Incident Management Team (IMT) reports that the fire now totals 53,875 acres.
Articles on Wildfire Today about the Legion Lake Fire are tagged “Legion Lake Fire”.
Mop up will continue through the weekend and some resources are being released. The Type 2 IMT expects to transition back to a local Type 3 IMT by Saturday. Highways 16A and 87 remain closed due to the threat of falling trees. The two air tankers were released but the the Type 3 helicopter remains on scene for aerial recon.
The aerial photo below shows the northeast corner of the fire during burnout operations late in the day on December 13, with helpful notes to identify landmarks. Click on it a couple of times to see a larger version.
— ken-IR (@IR4ken) December 14, 2017
Now that the spread of the fire has been halted, at least temporarily, Custer State Park has been able to reassign some of their staff to assessing the wildlife. Here is what they reported Friday afternoon:
The majority of our bison herd has been discovered and we are currently in the process of gathering them up and assessing them. The majority of our pronghorn, elk and deer herds have also been located and visually appear to be doing well. We found half of our burro herd and they were the animals that were most impacted by the fire. They are currently being evaluated by veterinarians for an overall health check. We will continue to look for the remainder of the burro herd, but at this time it is believed they did not survive the extreme fire growth from Tuesday night.
The weather Saturday and Saturday night should help slow down the fire even more, with an 80 percent chance of an inch of snow. The high temperatures on Saturday and Sunday will be in the 30s.