BUFFALO GAP — Several crews responded to a grass fire last Friday, caused by a tree falling through a power line approximately one mile south of Buffalo Gap along Hwy. 79, near Elm Creek.
A South Dakota Highway Patrolman directs traffic while holding his hat down against the high winds near the fire. The fire, which did jump the highway at one point, forced one-lane traffic on a portion of Hwy. 79 due to low visibility.
Approximately 45 people helped battle the blaze which consumed 90 acres of mostly grass, along with several tires and some hazardous materials which caused large plumes of blac k smoke to blow eastward.
The fire, known as the County Line Fire, used resources, including engines and equipment from Buffalo Gap, Hot Springs, Fairburn, Pringle, Oral, Oelrichs, Edgemont, Argyle, Minnekahta, State, Fall River Emergency Management, Fall River Sheriffs Office, and Private Dozer.
The fire was managed with a unified command structure. The agencies involved in the unified command were Buffalo Gap Fire, Fall River County, and the State Division of Wildland Fire Suppression.
The fire started on the west side of Highway 79 and jumped across the highway. The Northbound lanes of Highway 79 were closed for a short time due to smoke blowing across the Highway.
High winds contributed to the spread of the fire with NW winds blowing 7 miles per hour with gusts up to 20 miles per hour, causing rapid rates of fire spread.
At one point, three structures were threatened, but were successfully protected by the agencies fighting the fire. The fire was contained by late Friday afternoon, but required extensive mop-ups due to the private dump that was in the fire area.
The tires and other household hazardous materials caused extended mop-up times.