Archive for Sunday, June 30, 2002

Casino town evacuated as fire nears

June 30, 2002


— Residents of this Black Hills gambling town were ordered to evacuate Saturday because of an approaching wildfire, but a fire official said crews were keeping the blaze at bay.

Gov. Bill Janklow, who issued the late-afternoon order, said the fire had jumped a highway on the outskirts of town and was moving toward a trailer court and a fire command post.

The fire was 1,700 acres in size, said Steve Hasenorhl of the South Dakota Wildlands Fire Suppression Division.

"It's really pretty chaotic up there right now," he said.

No structures were burning, said Beth Adam of the state Wildlands Fire Suppression Division. She said the fire was "torching some trees and traveling through the canyon."

"It is just coming down the hills into parts of town, but we are stopping it at this time," she said by telephone as she watched the flames.

The first of the C-130 air tankers that were requested had arrived Saturday evening. An estimated 200 firefighters were on the job and another 200 were on the way, Hasenorhl said.

The evacuation was expanded east down to the Boulder Canyon Country Club toward the Sturgis area as a precaution, Hasenorhl said.

Authorities also said the Deadwood hospital moved its three patients to the Spearfish Hospital.

Deadwood, a tourist town with a population of 1,380 about 40 miles northwest of Rapid City, is home to at least a dozen casinos.

Air slurry help had been requested, and tankers reportedly were being diverted from a fire in the southern Black Hills.

Hasenorhl said the fire started in the Grizzly Gulch area of the Black Hills about a mile south of Lead. It was unclear how or when the blaze was started.

Hasenorhl said windy, hot conditions in the northern Black Hills were making the situation worse; temperatures in the region soared as high as 110 degrees Saturday.

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