Crews continue work on Medora fire

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4/5/21, 3:17 p.m.

As of 1:15 p.m., firefighters are reporting the Medora fire is 100 percent contained.

4/4/21, 8:20 p.m.

The fire near Medora is now believed to be 85 percent contained, according to the North Dakota Forest Service. Saturday night, it was reported to be 100 percent contained, but authorities believe it’s closer to 85 after all.

As of 11:15 Sunday morning, the estimated acreage burned has decreased some as well, down to 2,276 acres according to the latest press release from the Forest Service.

The agency’s Public Information Officer says firefighters are continuing to make progress on the hot spots “despite the difficult terrain and sustained red flag conditions.”

4/3/21, 8 p.m.

The fire spanning an estimated 3,000 acres in Medora is 100 percent contained as of Saturday night. This means the entire boundary around the fire is secured, but the fire is not considered to be extinguished.

According to the incident commander on scene, there is minimal smoke at this point.

Crews will stay on it through the weekend to make sure it remains contained, and continue to work on the hot spots.

4/3/21, 1:04 p.m.

Responders are continuing to make progress on fire containment despite the difficult terrain and sustained red flag conditions

The USDA Forest Service has issued a closure for the area affected by the wildfire. This includes the Buffalo Gap Trail from I-94 southeast to its intersection with the Maah Daah Hey Trail, and the Maah Daah Hey Trail from the National Park Boundary south to Sully Creek State Park.

This order is to protect public health and safety, and is in effect until further notice.

4/2/21, 9:24 p.m.

The fire is now more than 50 percent contained, according to Deputy Sheriff Wyckoff. He says all crews spent Friday evening working on hot spots with the helicopters, and they plan to make a lot more headway on Saturday.

Wyckoff said they are still reporting no injuries.

4/2/21, 10:47 a.m.

Fire crews have been working to put out the remaining areas that are burning.

There are still no reports of structural damage or injuries.

Medora city officials expressed their gratitude to those who have battled the wildfire, saying in a Facebook post their efforts have saved an important part of North Dakota history and heritage.

4/2/21, 9:23 a.m.

The evacuation order for Medora residents was lifted late Thursday night as officials say 50 percent of the fire is contained and that they had stopped it from spreading. The town, with a population of about 100 residents, are now free to return home.

4/2/21, 8:36 a.m.

Fire officials say the dense smoke from the Medora fire made it hard Thursday night for fire crews to see how much was actually burning. KX News crews are in a briefing with officials and will have more as details become available.

4/2/21, 8:15 a.m.

The North Dakota Department of Emergency Services requested a temporary flight restriction from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The temporary flight restriction is in place until April 8 at 7 p.m. CST to keep the area clear for response agencies and to provide a safe environment since wildfire smoke has reduced visibility in the area.

Pilots of manned aircraft and operators of unmanned aircraft are being asked not to fly within a radius of 10 nautical miles of Medora as aircraft from the North Dakota Civil Air Patrol, North Dakota National Guard and U.S. Forest Service conduct wildfire response operations.

This includes flying at altitudes from the surface to 5,000 feet above sea level.

4/2/21, 8 a.m.

The Billings County Fire Chief says the fire is now 50 percent contained and estimates 3,000 acres burned.

4/1/21, 10:10 p.m.

I-94 from Beach to Belfield has reopened as well as the I-94 Business Loop through Medora. For information on road conditions throughout the state, call 511 or visit the ND Roads Map.

4/1/21, 10 p.m.

Andi Ahne was live in Medora for our top story at 10. Here’s a recap of what we know:

4/1/21, 9:16 p.m.

Eerie videos posted on Twitter from the North Dakota Highway Patrol, who are helping with traffic control on I-94 near exit 24, show the extreme fire conditions along with large amounts of smoke. The National Guard’s helicopters can also be seen dousing the fire with water.

4/1/21, 8:37 p.m.

KX News was safely escorted to another area to get a closer view of the fires shortly before 8:30 p.m. We were told there is still no structural damage or injuries. Below is what we saw:

CLICK HERE to view a second Facebook live shot.

4/1/21, 8:08 p.m.

Billings County Commission Chairman, Michael Kasian, declared a State of Emergency in Billings County due to the Medora fire. According to a Facebook post by Billings County, ND, the declaration will remain in place until rescinded by the commission at a regular or special meeting.

4/1/21, 7:32 p.m.

A KX News crew just arrived in Medora, and from a safe distance, went live on Facebook to show you the scene. In the video below, you can see a Black Hawk helicopter carrying water to assist in dousing the fire.

CLICK HERE to view the video.

4/1/21, 7:14 p.m.

Over 9,600 acres have burned, according to Robert Schilling with the U.S. Forest Service. As of now, he says their concerns of buildings being hit are not serious, and they are “doing everything they can” to keep that from happening, though said the fire is moving “at a good clip,” meaning quickly.

4/1/21, 6:26 p.m.

Kasey Hester, whose dad is helping fight the Medora fire, shared these photos with us. She said they were taken up the road from Chateau de Mores State Historic Site.

4/1/21, 6:04 p.m.

A downed power line is said to be the cause of the fire in Medora, Deputy Sheriff Dean Wyckoff, of Billings County, said.

Wyckoff informed KX News that the fire is not contained as of 6 p.m., and he estimates over 2,000 acres have burned. The fire started by West River Road, then moved toward Medora.

There are no reports of structural damage or injuries at this time.

4/1/21, 5:44 p.m.

Gov. Doug Burgum declared a statewide wildfire emergency, just minutes after Medora was called to evacuate due to growing fire and smoke.

Credit: North Dakota National Guard

Burgum said the North Dakota National Guard will deploy two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to help fight the Medora fire. The U.S. Forest Service, with the North Dakota Forest Service, requested the National Guard helicopters with water buckets to help.

A Facebook post from the National Guard said the last time helicopters with water buckets were deployed was to fight a wildfire south of the University of Mary, in April 2015.

4/1/21, 5:37 p.m.

Both east and west entrances from I-94 into Medora are temporarily closed, according to the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

There will be no incoming access to the I-94 Business Loop until further notice.

4/1/21, 5:11 p.m.

Medora is being evacuated as a wildfire southwest of the town is actively spreading.

Justin Fisk with the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation confirmed Thursday that Medora is being evacuated due to “considerably” increasing smoke over the last hour.

The U.S. Forest Service-Dakota Prairie Grasslands also posted on Facebook that local, state and federal officials are on scene. They ask you please avoid the area to allow emergency responders to easily access the fire.

This is a developing story. Stick with KX News for updates on air and online.

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