Wildfires continued to burn Friday morning around Lake McConaughy, likely sparked by lightning strikes Thursday afternoon.
The largest of the fires is the Otter Creek Fire, north of Otter Creek Lodge on the north side of Lake McConaughy. According to the incident commander, Keystone Lemoyne Fire Chief Ralph Moul, the fire was out of control as of 4am MT Friday morning. Moul estimates the fire has burned about 40,000 acres. Crews are having a tough time battling this fire due to canyon terrain not accessible by ground crews.
The McKeag fire, just north of the Keith and Arthur County line, was contained as of early Friday morning, after burning an estimated 2,500 acres.
The Eagle Canyon Hideaway Fire, north of Brule on the south side of Lake McConaughy, was not contained at all as of Friday morning. At least 7 structures are, or have been, imminently threatened by the fire. Moul says crews were expected to tackle this fire early Friday and attempt to gain the upper hand.
The Ackley Valley Fire, within the Haythorn Ranch about 6 miles north of Lake McConaughy, had burned an estimated 6,000 acres as of Friday morning. At 4am MT, Moul says the fire was out of control. However, a phone call from a resident of the Haythorn Ranch Friday morning at 8am MT said the fire had been contained.
The Glen Echo Fire, in the northeastern corner of Keith County and into McPherson County, had burned an estimated 7,500 acres as of Friday morning. Moul says crews were having difficulty getting in to fight this fire due to hilly terrain and a canyon area inaccessible to ground crews.
A disaster declaration was signed by the Keith County Board of Commissioners Chairman Rex Christensen Friday morning, allowing the freeing up of funds and resources to fight the fires.
Chief Moul has been requesting some heavy equipment assistance at a couple of the fires to help with fire lines and property protection. Volunteers are turning up in droves to offer assistance and much-needed items as crews worked through the night to contain the many fires. Crews are expected to be assisted by air support throughout the day Friday.
Moul has requested the public stay out of the area of the fires to aid in crews attempts to get the fires under control.
(UPDATED 12:57pm MDT)
Volunteers and fire crews are requesting that donations halt for the day. They say they're EXTREMELY grateful for the outpouring of support, but are no longer in need of any donations at this time. That may change, but for now, they're in good shape. Firefighters said people came from all around, including out of state, to donate and to ask if they can help. Thank you.
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