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Area departments recuperate, thankful for rain following two Monday fires

LYMAN--Several rainstorms Tuesday afternoon in Lyman County came fewer than 24 hours after two fires burned 467 acres near Presho and Lyman. But the water's timing was perfect. As crews monitored each scene Tuesday morning into the evening to ens...

Cows attempt to graze in pastureland Tuesday afternoon north of Lyman. More than 200 acres of the land was burned in a Monday afternoon fire. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)
Cows attempt to graze in pastureland Tuesday afternoon north of Lyman. More than 200 acres of the land was burned in a Monday afternoon fire. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)

LYMAN-Several rainstorms Tuesday afternoon in Lyman County came fewer than 24 hours after two fires burned 467 acres near Presho and Lyman.

But the water's timing was perfect.

As crews monitored each scene Tuesday morning into the evening to ensure there were no flare-ups or hot spots, small "dust devils" formed, blowing around ash, soot and debris. The rain dampened and cooled the ashes, which safeguarded surrounding land from smoldering debris.

Around 3 p.m. Monday, the Presho Fire Department responded to a blaze 9 miles north of Presho and were on scene for more than seven hours. The fire burned 235 acres and drew approximately 46 firefighters from six area agencies. One crew from a suburb of Denver, which was in the Fort Pierre as part of a "strike team"- specified combinations of the same type of resources, sent to a specific area-also assisted in battling the fires.

Then, as soon as crews had the fire contained, a call came in reporting a fire about 1.5 miles north of Lyman, which burned 232 acres over five hours.

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"When we saw the smoke from (the Lyman) fire, we just said, 'Go ahead and just start calling people, anyone who will come,' " Lyman County Sheriff and Emergency Manager Steve Manger said Tuesday.

Both fires, Manger said, were caused by machinery malfunctions, causing sparks and, ultimately, "crazy" fires. Moreover, Manger said, the area is just dry in general, adding to fire danger. He said county officials are hoping the state's drought declaration is altered to include Lyman County, which would allow more state resources to be available in the event of future fires.

Most of the rigs dispatched from Presho immediately, en route to Lyman, leaving clean-up efforts to a handful of firefighters, making the process much longer than it would have been.

"We had 23 rigs with us in Presho, then all of a sudden we had three," Presho Fire Chief Donny Manger said. "But Lyman needed them far more, it was just a long day."

In Lyman, a golden ring of pastureland traced an outline around a long, narrow section of charred, black grass Tuesday, where conditions proved difficult for officials.

The Lyman fire was a little tougher to manage, Steve Manger said, because smoke from the fire was thick and the terrain was much more rough than conditions in Presho. At one point, he said, he had to direct fire trucks around the smoke from his truck along the edge of the fire's perimeter.

"That's the thing-you couldn't see anything in front of you. There were flames at the head of that fire about 20 to 25 feet tall," Manger said.

While that was happening, several area farmers also navigated around the edge of the fire, using discs to till soil. Others moved cattle.

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With several firefighters responding to both fires, Manger said it was obviously physically taxing for many. On Tuesday, Manger said he knew of many who were resting for the majority of the day and hoped others would follow suit overnight.

"It's exciting-kind of like an adrenaline boost-while you're there," he said. "But you're breathing in a lot of nasty smoke. It's probably like sticking a pack of cigarettes in your mouth and smoking them all at once."

Overall, Manger said crews and neighbors who responded to both fires deserve a "pat on the back."

"That's the coolest thing about out here. Once you have a fire like this, you get the majority of the farmers with tankers and stuff, man, they're headed this way," Manger said. "Resources got here right at the perfect timing. It couldn't have gone any better than it did."

Cows attempt to graze in pastureland Tuesday afternoon north of Lyman. More than 200 acres of the land was burned in a Monday afternoon fire. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)
Cows attempt to graze in pastureland Tuesday afternoon north of Lyman. More than 200 acres of the land was burned in a Monday afternoon fire. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)

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