Crews are beginning to get a handle on the Legion Lake Fire that has burned more than 84 square miles.
The wildfire is now 50 percent contained and has burned 53,875 acres, Legion Lake Fire Information said in a news release Thursday. That containment is up from 10 percent Wednesday night.
The cause of the fire has been confirmed as a fallen power line in the area of Wilson's Corner, one mile northeast of Legion Lake in Custer State Park. The fire started around 7:30 a.m. Monday morning.
Snow in the area of the fire Wednesday night helped slow down the blaze, according to fire officials. Even with the snow, they warned that conditions are still dry within the fire perimeter.
On Thursday, crews mopped up and held lines north of Fusion Canyon, where the highest fire activity remains.
The Legion Lake Fire is the third-largest wildfire in modern Black Hills history. The largest, the Jasper Fire, burned more than 80,000 acres in 2000.
All evacuation orders for residents who live in areas threatened by the fire have been lifted, but Custer State Park remains closed. Mail delivery in Fairburn resumed after being suspended on Wednesday, and the Red Cross Shelter at Hermosa School has closed.
During a South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks meeting Thursday, secretary Kelly Hepler said no structures have been touched by the blaze and light snow might be on the way Saturday to help crews.
Hepler said the fire burned through a major part of the buffalo range inside the park. He said the park staff don't want to be in competition with the private landowners who have also lost hay, and the park staff need to determine how to address the situation in a way favorable for landowners.
GF&P Commission Chairman Barry Jensen of White River said it’s important for the commission to give the department an opportunity to assess what has occurred.
In a news release on Thursday, Custer State Park Superintendent Matt Snyder urged people to donate hay to area landowners and thanked those who have offered to help the park.
"We have neighbors and private landowners who have been impacted by this fire," he said. "At this time, we are looking to give them assistance."
Those wishing to donate hay are asked to email Farm Rescue at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 701-252-2017.