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2 firefighters injured battling massive wildfire near Lemmon

Smoke billows from a large wildfire near Lemmon.
Smoke billows from a large wildfire near Lemmon.(Lemmon Fire and Rescue)
Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 9:31 AM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Authorities say two firefighters were injured battling a large wildfire fanned by strong winds near Lemmon.

The fire has burned an estimated 10,000 acres - over 15 square miles - according to Lemmon Fire Marshal Shane Penfield, though officials have yet to confirm the exact size of the blaze.

Penfield said the fire was first reported around 4:30 p.m. Thursday, and that an “ominous orange glow” could be seen from Lemmon during the early hours of the fire. Crews were still battling the wildfire Friday morning.

Powerful winds have made fighting the wildfire difficult, according to Penfield. Wind gusts exceeding 50 miles per hour have fanned the flames since Thursday afternoon. The fire began northwest of Lemmon in Adams County, N.D., but spread southeast, eventually reaching roughly 12 miles south of Lemmon. Crews managed to stop the spread late Thursday night, but wind gusts reignited the blaze early Friday morning.

Several farms and ranches were evacuated as a precaution. Penfield said no residential buildings have been lost, but a ranch headquarters building received extensive damage. The Perkins County Sheriff’s Office closed off sections of U.S. Highway 12 and Highway 73 in the area, though they have since reopened.

Nearly 20 fire departments have responded to the fire from as far away as Mobridge - 100 miles to the east. Firefighters have also had to contend with the cold, as temperatures in the Lemmon area have hovered around 25 degrees.

Penfield said the firefighters who were injured received medical care at the West River Regional Medical Center in Hettinger, N.D.

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