Late afternoon, around 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 16, a fire broke out east of Wanblee, S.D., about one mile west of the junction of Highway 44 and 73.
The Martin Volunteer Fire Department was called by the BIA for assistance around 5 p.m. They have sent 4 brush trucks, 2 tenders, and 11 firemen to assist with the fire as of Monday afternoon. At that time, there had already been an estimated 5,000 acres burned.
Fire departments all across the region responded to the fire, including airplanes and a helicopter. As the fire has spread, it has come closer to homes with an unconfirmed report that a house had been destroyed. Firemen are doing their best to protect the structures. So far, at least a barn, garage, and corrals belonging to the Poor Bear family have been lost, according to Enos Poor Bear Jr. Poor Bear said there were at least 46 cattle missing and approximately 1200 acres of timber on his property was burned.
Poor Bear said he is amazed and thankful at the response of so many fire departments, especially the local ones.
Burnouts, purposely burning in areas to help control the fire, have been conducted with good early results. A state dozer was sent to help as well.
At one point, Highway 73 had been closed from the Wanblee junction to Kadoka and then reopened. An unofficial report from one individual suggested the fire started in the ditch near a culvert along Hwy 44. There has been discussion of livestock being moved away from the fire. Temperatures reaching high 90’s on Sunday and hitting 100 degrees on Monday has made fire fighting conditions more difficult.
One news source report as of Tuesday morning stated 50 percent containment of the fire.
Several attempts to contact the BIA have gone un-returned so our information is coming from other sources and the Martin Volunteer Fire Dept. Twitter page.
The Martin Volunteer Fire Dept. responded to a hay fire Sunday, July 16, 7 miles North of Martin, with about 9 acres burning in that blaze.
On July 14, the department responded to a duplex structure fire in Wanblee around 4 p.m.
The MVFD urges people to be very careful with the fire conditions being very risky all across the region.