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Fire burns 780 acres, forces highway closure

RELIANCE -- Warm and dry conditions sparked a Saturday afternoon fire near Reliance that burned more than 750 acres over a five-hour span. Officials believe a spark from a car fire on Thursday ignited a field five miles north and two miles east o...

A Saturday fire burned an estimated 784 acres of land northeast of Reliance. (Photo courtesy of Steve Manger)
A Saturday fire burned an estimated 784 acres of land northeast of Reliance. (Photo courtesy of Steve Manger)

RELIANCE - Warm and dry conditions sparked a Saturday afternoon fire near Reliance that burned more than 750 acres over a five-hour span.

Officials believe a spark from a car fire on Thursday ignited a field five miles north and two miles east of Reliance. According to Lyman County Sheriff and Emergency Manager Steve Manger, the car fire was put out Thursday, but the spark, paired with the weather conditions, rekindled the blaze Saturday.

A handful of structures were threatened by the fire, but crews were able to contain the blaze before it reached the buildings, Manger said, adding that there were no injuries.

The Reliance Fire Department received the call about the fire at approximately 2 p.m. and quickly began calling for mutual aid, Manger said.

More than 50 firefighters from seven fire departments were on scene through 10 p.m. Saturday, and several returned Sunday to monitor the scene and ensure it didn't reignite.

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The fire, which burned an estimated 784 acres, forced the closure of a 3 mile stretch of South Dakota Highway 47 for five hours, Manger said, as the fire jumped across the roadway. Firefighters were able to contain the blaze on the other side of the road right away and prevent its spread, Manger said. The Lyman County Sheriff's Office and South Dakota Highway Patrol conducted the road closure.

"We were trying to put the dang thing out and it wasn't working with cattails," Manger said. "We were able to put a perimeter around the outside and everything went pretty smooth from there."

The Reliance, Kennebec, Lower Brule, Fort Thompson, Chamberlain, Presho and Fort Pierre fire departments responded. And, just as important, Manger said, was the help local farmers provided by bringing equipment like discs and tractors to help manage and contain the blaze.

"It's just really dry out there, and (Sunday) it's windy, so we're going to keep watching it just to be cautious," Manger said.

Related Topics: FIRES
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