The Latest: Officials ask that hay goes through Farm Rescue

AP News
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Posted: Dec 14, 2017 4:33 PM

CUSTER, S.D. (AP) — The Latest on a wildfire at Custer State Park in South Dakota's Black Hills (all times local):

2:55 p.m.

Custer State Park officials say that hay donations to those affected by a South Dakota wildfire should be made through a Plains farm aid nonprofit.

Officials on Thursday asked that hay donations be made through Farm Rescue. The blaze is the third-largest wildfire recorded in Black Hills.

Matt Snyder, Custer State Park superintendent, thanked people who have reached about donating hay to the park. But he says officials have identified a greater need: neighbors and private landowners hurt by the fire.

Snyder says once staff is released from addressing imminent fire danger, officials will re-assess the needs for wildlife and other areas of the park.

Custer State Park is a top South Dakota tourist destination. Visitors often drive to see roaming buffalo, elk and bighorn sheep.

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12:55 p.m.

Custer State Park officials say a fallen power line caused a large wildfire that has raged this week in western South Dakota.

Officials said Thursday that the blaze is the third-largest wildfire recorded in Black Hills.

The blaze is 50 percent contained, up from 10 percent reported previously. The fire has consumed more than 73 square miles (190 square kilometers).

Officials say that fire crews are making gains as mop up work starts within the fire's perimeter.

They say light snow helped with the fire in the north, but conditions are dry within the perimeter.

Officials are evaluating the fire's effects on Custer State Park wildlife. The park is a top South Dakota tourist destination just south of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

The park is closed while officials evaluate public and staff safety.

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10:45 a.m.

A Custer State Park official says a western South Dakota wildfire hasn't spread past fire containment lines overnight.

Park spokeswoman Lydia Austin said the fire has consumed more than 73 square miles (190 square kilometers) and is 10 percent contained. She says a fresh estimate will come later Thursday.

Austin says the blaze didn't expand last night past fire lines, which can be roads or strips where firefighters remove vegetation so there's nothing for the fire to burn.

She says there have been no injuries and no main park buildings have been destroyed in the blaze.

Custer State Park is a top South Dakota tourist destination just south of Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the southwest part of the state.

The fire began Monday. Its cause is under investigation.