Massive wind-driven grass fire near Lemmon, SD challenges fire departments in ND, SD

State News

Credit: John Lopez

UPDATE: 9:45 AM

Shane Penfield a Public Information Officer with the Lemmon Fire Department says the fire is about 30% contained Friday morning. The estimate is currently about 20,000 acres have burned, and the fire is still burning this morning.

ORIGINAL:

A huge, wind-fed grass fire Thursday afternoon near the South Dakota-North Dakota border not far from Lemmon, SD took the combined efforts of 22 fire departments in the two states nearly 8 hours just to get a foothold on the blaze.

The fire was still burning Friday morning.

Around 4:30 p.m., Thursday, the Lemmon Fire Department responded to a report of a grass fire northwest of the city in Adams County, ND.

At the time of the call, winds were exceeding 30 to 40 miles per hour, with gusts over 50 mph.

Added to that was the fact the greater Lemmon area, extending into North Dakota, has been suffering from extremely dry conditions and no snow cover.

When fire crews arrived, the blaze was burning up to 30 feet in height and quickly moving to the southeast, prompting the evacuation of several nearby farms and ranches.

By the time crews were able to bring the fire under control around 11:00 p.m., it had moved 20 miles and, at several points, burned a path four miles wide. High winds kept crews on hand overnight to manage what was left of the grass fire.

In all, fire officials estimate the massive blaze consumed about 10,000 acres of land across portions of 19 farms and ranches. Outside of a ranch headquarters, no other structures or buildings were damaged or destroyed.

Two firemen suffered minor injuries battling the fire.

Highway 12 to the North Dakota border and Highway 73 from Summerville to Lemmon were closed during efforts to contain the blaze.

Crews expect to remain on scene throughout Friday until winds subside and the last hot spots are extinguished.

The fire was visible from at least 7 miles north into North Dakota, as shown in some of the photos above.

John Lopez, who is from South Dakota, captured the video below of the fire.

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