Lemmon community helps more than 20 fire departments battling wildfire

Published: Jan. 17, 2021 at 4:22 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - A wildfire outside of Lemmon, South Dakota, has burned more than 20,000 since Thursday afternoon.

The Fire Marshal said the fire spread more than 21 miles and was as much as 4 miles wide.

At least 26 fire departments from as far as 100 miles away responded.

All that remains for farmers and ranchers is chard landscape for miles around as a wildfire grew to an estimated 20,000 acres. Firefighters struggled to get under control because of the fast winds, they have since gain most of that control. The next step is to clean up.

Chuck Anderson counts his blessings and quick thinking by firefighters who saved his home from a wildfire. But 500 acres of pasture and fencing were burned by the flames.

“[In the] short term it doesn’t hurt us, but going into this next grazing season we probably won’t be able to use it until July or August,” said Anderson.

Jo Hetzl and staff at the Lemmon Pit Stop made breakfast sandwiches and coffee for first responders each time fire trucks re-fueled. She said they wanted to make sure crews wouldn’t go hungry and could focus on the emergency.

“We just wanted to be sure that we did whatever we could to provide a service while [firefighters are] out there fighting fire,” said Hetzl.

According to the Lemmon Fire Marshal, firefighters were very appreciative of the support as crews continued to put out hot spots.

“This community comes together whether it’s people that have brought food down to the fire hall, the local convenience store that has helped. The water effort, that’s a tall order to get the amount of water that we need for a fire this big,” said Penfield.

Fire Marshal Shane Penfield said his department trains at least once a month for wildfire scenarios.

As of 11:33 am on January 17th, the fire remains at 95% contained, the fire department continues to monitor the burned area. There is no active flame at this time but hot spots remain.

Two firefighters have been treated at the hospital.

No word yet on how the fire started.

Note: The fire containment percentage as been updated since publication

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