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Wildfire Burning West Of Custer – UPDATE 50% Contained

       As further evidence of the high fire danger in our region – federal, state, and local crews have been battling a wildfire today in the Black Hills west of Custer. The Wabash Springs Wildfire began about 7:00 am. 

     Incident Commander Trainee John Haskivitz says firefighters made great progress throughout the day in the face of high winds and forward progress had been stopped by midafternoon. 

     At 4:00 pm,  the Wabash Springs Fire was listed at 111-acres and 50% contained. The cause remains under investigation.

    Haskivitz says winds in excess of 40 mph pushed the fire rapidly early on with smoke making travel very difficult. As a result, Hwy 16 was closed until early this afternoon, although local traffic only is still encouraged for the safety of firefighters and the public.

      Evacuation notices have been lifted for most areas with the remainder scheduled to end at 6:00 pm. A shelter remains in operation at the National Guard Armory in Custer for those not comfortable returning home yet. 

     Haskivitz says winds are expected to decrease overnight and he expects to see more progress with full containment sometime tomorrow. 

                 ORIGINAL STORY

     Federal, state and local crews are fighting a wildfire  in the Black Hills west of Custer. The U-S Forest Service says the Wabash Springs Wildfire began about 7:00 am Thursday and was listed at 11:00 AM as 30% contained at between 50 and 100 acres. 

      An evacuation center has been opened in the National Guard Armory gym in Custer for residents wishing to leave their homes because of the fire danger. 

     Strong winds in excess of 40 mph have been pushing the fire rapidly with smoke making travel on Hwy 16 very difficult. As a result, the highway is closed from Custer to Pleasant Valley Road.

       The fire is being managed by a unified command between South Dakota Wildland Fire and The Black Hills National Forest with crews, engines, and dozers working to stop the fire’s forward progress. The cause remains undetermined.

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