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Crow Peak fire near Spearfish burning in steep terrain; crews battle heat, winds

SPEARFISH -- Firefighters faced steep terrain, dense stands of trees, erratic winds and temperatures around 100 as they continued to battle the Crow Peak Fire in the northern Black Hills on Tuesday.

Brian Daunt
Brian Daunt

SPEARFISH -- Firefighters faced steep terrain, dense stands of trees, erratic winds and temperatures around 100 as they continued to battle the Crow Peak Fire in the northern Black Hills on Tuesday.

The fire area was in a red flag warning Tuesday and temperatures topped 100. Southwest winds fanned the fire and dried the air even more, adding to the challenges. A Monday evening thunderstorm did drop about a half inch of rain.

On Monday, Brian Daunt, the incident commander of the Crow Peak Fire, which began by lightning, said the tough conditions expected made that day's work "a pivotal moment."

About 160 personnel including firefighters, three helicopters, two bulldozers and four engines from a variety of local, state and federal agencies are fighting the 100-acre blaze. The fire was reported Saturday evening and grew to about 50 acres by Monday morning.

"It burned actively over the night. It is in steep terrain and is challenging to get people and equipment in," Daunt said. "When wind and slopes become aligned it really wants to push the fire at a high rate of spread. It gives us some problems."

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By Monday afternoon, the fire had grown to 70 acres and incident commanders said they received two additional hand crews but one helicopter was removed from service. Another two crews of about 20 firefighters each were expected to join in the effort.

Daunt said an air attack airplane circles above the fire and directs the helicopters, but it is up to the ground crews to tell pilots on where to drop the water taken from nearby ponds.

Steve Trimarchi with the National Weather Service in Rapid City, said the area would be hot and dry for the next week, but it would cool down to the upper 80s and lower 90s today through Saturday.

There is a slight chance for precipitation late in the week and then the weekend will see temperatures rise once again.

Crow Peak helicopter
A South Dakota National Guard helicopter drops a 600-gallon bucket of water on the Crow Peak Fire Monday afternoon. About 40 firefighters fought the fire Monday during a "critical" phase of containment efforts. (Mark Watson/Black Hills Pioneer)

Related Topics: FIRES
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