Grizzly Gulch Fire Grows to 6,200 Acres

The Grizzly Gulch fire has grown to 6,200 acres, nearly 10 square miles, officials said Monday morning.

The fire burned in several areas in the Black Hills through Sunday night, said Ivan Irskine, a fire behavior analyst.

"It really didn't lay down at all," Irskine said.

Winds were gusty Monday morning but Irskine expected them to become lighter by the afternoon and shift Tuesday, pushing the fire back into itself.

Federal officials took charge of firefighting efforts Monday morning. State officials had been coordinating efforts through the weekend.

One fire official said much of the day would be spent developing more coordinated and larger attacks on the blaze.

"What we need to try to concentrate on today is connecting the dots," said Beth Lund, day operations chief for the fire fighting effort.

The day crew of firefighters were told Monday morning there was a shortage of hand tools and of lunches. But officials said a complete fire camp would be set up later in the day.

Airplanes were expected to continue assisting fire fighting efforts and two helicopters with large water buckets were being brought in.

The fire apparently started Saturday southeast of Deadwood in the Grizzly Gulch area. Since then it has prompted the evacuation of Deadwood and parts of Lead.

A marginal fire line had been established Sunday night on the north side of Lead, one of the hot spots for the blaze, said Paul Johnson of the Rapid City Fire Department. Firefighters set small fires in that area to burn up some of the extra fuel ahead of the approaching wildfire, he said.

"We had a fair amount of work to do because of the winds, but everything was under control," Johnson said.