Fire crews battle to contain Wabash Spring wildfire near Custer

The Early evening news on KOTA Territory TV
Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 9:38 AM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The Black Hills National Forest, along with South Dakota Wildland Fire are battling a wildfire that broke out west of Custer early this Thursday morning. As of Thursday afternoon, the fire, that crews are calling the Wabash Spring Fire, burned approximately 111 acres, and is 50% contained.

Dry grass and high winds shot the chance for wildfire in the Black Hills up tremendously this week. Five miles west of Custer, firefighters have had to deal with the Wabash Spring Fire.

Incident commander John Haskvitz says while the wind coming from the north was a problem early in the blaze, they’re hoping the winds die down and the crew can have the fire mopped up by Friday morning.

“It was really pushing it toward the structures, which was a contributing factor to getting around the fire, the number of structures involved. With the winds, hopefully dying down toward midnight, that should hopefully help us gain on this fire.”

Custer County Emergency Management set up a evacuation center in the school gym in the old Custer Armory.

Allen Dubblede lives south of Custer, and heard people west of town we’re beginning to evacuate.

“We’re keeping an eye on it, and we decided that we would come to the armory and bring some food that we had in our freezer that hopefully the people can use.”

Haskvitz says he’s thankful so many homeowners in the path of the blaze had their homes prepared.

“What really helped us is the landowners who did mow their yard, and had their areas cleaned out. The fire really did check up in those mowed areas and it allowed us to get better access and help slow the progression of the fire.

No injuries have been reported, and all structures so far have been spared.

Previous Update:

According to Great Plains Fire Information, Highway 16 is now open.

Previous Update:

A release from the Forest Service states that the Wabash Spring wildfire is now 30 percent contained, having already burned 50 to 100 acres.

The fire is being managed by a unified command between South Dakota Wildland Fire and the Black hills National Forest.

Strong winds are pushing the fire rapidly and smoke is making travel on Highway 16 very difficult. The highway is closed from Custer to Pleasant Valley Road.

The cause of the fire, reported at 7:11 a.m., is unknown at this time.

Previous Update:

The Wabash Spring wildfire burning five miles west of Custer is now estimated at 50 acres, according to the Great Plains Interagency Dispatch Center.

Resources include engines, hand crews and bulldozers. Also, a Red Cross shelter for evacuees has been established at the Custer High School Armory.

Original Story:

A wildland fire is burning west of Custer in the area of Palamino Place, according to the Custer County Sheriff’s Office.

We don’t have much information on the fire at this time but there are some evacuations reportedly taking place and Highway 16 from Custer to Pleasant Valley Road is closed.

Kenneth Barfoot, who lives on Timpo Lane about two miles west of Custer, says the fire is burning in grass about 300 yards from his home. He says he sees firefighters attempting to backburn this morning.

Resources are being called in to assist local firefighters.

We will update this story as soon as we have new information.

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