HOT SPRINGS, South Dakota (AP) -- Residents of about 50 homes fled a wildfire that raced out of a canyon in the Black Hills, killing a homeowner who went back to retrieve possessions and destroying 27 houses, authorities said.
The fire near Hot Springs was one of dozens raging across the West on Sunday. In the eastern Sierra, firefighters battling a 34,000-acre blaze in California's Inyo National Forest gained ground as reinforcements arrived.
The 53-square mile fire was 15 percent contained Sunday after cooler temperatures and lighter winds allowed firefighters to make their first real progress, Inyo National Forest spokesman Nancy Upham said.
"We're looking pretty good right now," Upham said.
The fire skirted the popular John Muir Wilderness north of Mount Whitney and destroyed at least one home on the mountainside above the town of Independence. A lightning storm ignited the blaze Friday.
Lightning also sparked the fire in the Black Hills on Saturday. By Sunday, the blaze had consumed about 9 square miles, injuring two firefighters and closing a section of a state highway, authorities said.
One person was killed trying to retrieve possessions from a home. The victim's identity was withheld pending notification of relatives.
Wildfires rage across the West
West continues to swelter
"This thing blew up because of extreme hot temperatures and the winds," said Joe Lowe, South Dakota wildland fire coordinator. "It came out of the canyon with a vengeance."
Gov. Mike Rounds toured the area Sunday and noted that the trees around some houses were charred but the dwellings were intact.
"I don't know how in the world you saved some of those homes," he told firefighters at an evening briefing.
More than two dozen homes had no damage because of a high-tech gel made of water-filled bubbles.
Elsewhere, awildfire burning in the Los Padres National Forest in Southern California tore through more than 6,500 acres Sunday as it continued to move into the rural hills. A water-dropping helicopter crashed, and two pilots suffered minor injuries, Santa Barbara County Fire Captain Eli Iskow said.
The aircraft went down outside the fire lines and the cause was under investigation. All air traffic over the fire was grounded for the day, hindering the fight.
Investigators said the fire was ignited Wednesday by sparks from metal-grinding equipment being used on private property near Los Olivos.
In Utah, the largest wildfire in state history grew to 283,000 acres on Sunday. The blaze has swept through about 442 square miles of extremely dry sagebrush, cheat grass and pinion juniper in central Utah. Watch the fight against the Utah fire Ľ
"This fire just ran away from us, and we couldn't put a dent in it," said Mike Melton, fire management officer for Utah's Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.
The fire burned along the edge and in the median of Interstate 15 on Sunday, forcing a 60-mile closure of the highway between Interstate 70 near Cove Fort and Beaver for nearly five hours, Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Steve Winward said. I-15 could be closed again if the wind shifts, he said.
In central Washington state, high wind near Wenatchee spread a brush fire that forced 250 to 270 homes to be temporarily evacuated. At least three outbuildings were destroyed by the 5,800-acre blaze.
A fire in Arizona burned at the base of a mountain that is home to several expensive telescopes. A spokesman at Kitt Peak told KSAZ-TV he was concerned but not alarmed. Tankers were dropping retardant between the fire and the observatory, the station reported.
In Nevada, about 1,500 evacuees from Winnemucca were allowed home hours after a wildfire destroyed an electrical substation and several outbuildings, shut down Interstate 80, delayed trains and killed livestock. No injuries were reported.
"It was pretty hairy for quite a while, and people thought they would go back to nothing," Humboldt County Undersheriff Curtiss Kull said Sunday. "It was a huge wall of flame coming at the homes. It's amazing that no homes were lost."
Flames up to 40 feet high threatened major power lines in the area feeding the eastern Sierra front and greater Los Angeles, fire information officer Jim Wilkins said.
A 45,000-acre fire in Idaho was contained Saturday, officials said. Crews on Sunday raced to repair fire-damaged transmission lines that threatened rotating power failures.
Other fires blackened the landscape in Colorado, Montana and Oregon. E-mail to a friend
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Thread: South Dakota
07-09-2007, 09:40 AM #1
- Join Date
- Dec 2002
South DakotaAlways a day late and a dollar short!
07-09-2007, 06:27 PM #2
I was just coming over to post this.
Very sad, our thoughts and prayers are with the family."Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all"
07-10-2007, 06:12 PM #3
There seems to be alot of fires. All the firefighter crews need to be safe out there.
07-10-2007, 08:57 PM #4
- Join Date
- Jan 2007
07-10-2007, 09:32 PM #5
- Join Date
- Dec 1998
- Black Hawk VFD, South Dakota
Just a couple of notes on the South Dakota fire which is about 100 miles from me;
The civilian that was killed was trying to evacuate with his family. He told his wife he was going back inside to get a dog and never made it out. She just barely escaped by driving through a "wall of flame" as she put it. They had been put on evacuation standby apparently but the fire blew out and ran faster than anyone expected. It burned like southern California brush.
One that puzzles me is that we had two US Forest Service firefighters doing a burn out when a sudden wind shift trapped them. They deployed ONE shelter (with both of them in it) and survived with some minor burns. I am waiting to hear what happened on that incident. The investigation is underway.
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