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South Dakota firefighters sent to Colorado to combat wildfires

Grizzly Creek Fire in Colo., where Cliff McClure, the Fire Chief of Interior VFD, is deployed.
Grizzly Creek Fire in Colo., where Cliff McClure, the Fire Chief of Interior VFD, is deployed.(Cliff McClure)
Published: Aug. 27, 2020 at 7:02 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Wildfires continue to affect many states, and volunteer firefighters from Pennington County have been deployed to help.

Cliff McClure, the Fire Chief of Interior Volunteer Fire Department, says that more than 100 fire service members from South Dakota are helping combat fires across the nation right now. Chief McClure is also dispatched to Colorado, fighting the Grizzly Creek Fire currently, and he says, all the wildfires seem to pile up this August, and it’s been busy nationwide.

In a video call with Chief McClure, the sky in his background looks abnormally hazy. McClure says he is used to this situation.

He also explains, fire crews, such as those in the Interior Volunteer Fire Department, are called to help not just for Grizzly Creek Fire, but also for any wildfires in the country.

“So the Rocky Mountains region, we are in ’planning level 4,’ and the national region is at ’planning level 5,’ and so what ’planning level 5′ means is, we have pretty much exhausted all local resources,” he said.

Without enough local help, firefighters, regardless of where they may be based, can be dispatched to other states.

For McClure, he has been deployed to Colorado and has worked 14 days consecutively without a break. He is about to take two mandatory days off and will be back on the national dispatch list to help combat wildfires in the country.

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