CUSTER, S.D. The Legion Lake Fire has burned more than 53,000 acres since Monday, making it the third largest wildfire in Black Hills history. More than 300 firefighters responded to the call for help, including many from East river communities.
At least 4 states have provided firefighters to battle the Legion Lake Fire that started on Monday. Sioux Falls and Miller are two towns in South Dakota that are helping to fight the flames.
The crews first saw the fire on Wednesday after high winds rolled through.
"There was fire everywhere. That's when the adrenaline gets rolling in you. You start to go through your checklist on safety and making sure you got everything put together and trucks ready to roll," Arlen ..
For some of the crews, it's their first wildfire out in the Black Hills.
"Each one is a learning experience for me. They're all different. Different site, different terrain, different people, so there's always opportunity to learn a lot more,"
For others, it's a new experience for their younger crew members.
"It's the biggest fire they've been on. A lot of times you get out here, they stay smaller," G said. "Every day that you're on fire, if you're not learning something, it's time to get out because you aren't paying attention to what you're doing."
Making sure mistakes aren't made is a big priority.
"We watch each others back. We train on that a lot, so we make sure if we see someone slacking off or not paying attention, you set em aside and say, 'we gotta pay attention to what we're doing,'"
Working with others crews from different South Dakota towns and surrounding states has gone smoothly for everyone.
"We've been assigned to different crews. We've been assigned with crews from Rapid City, Wyoming, a team from Colorado, so kind of a mixed group. Different people, techniques and equipment,"
Two heavy air tankers from California and multiple fire crews were sent home Friday afternoon. Local crews will stay on site to work on fire containment and cleanup.
The Sioux Falls Fire Rescue crew is among those headed home. Ten firefighters from Sioux Falls headed out Wednesday to help crews in Custer. They took three trucks with them.
Governor Dennis Daugaard traveled to Custer State Park to see what firefighters have been battling all week. He went to the front lines to check on damage on interior roads and on the Wildlife Loop.