Aug 9, 2012 7:39 PM by Andy Koen

Lightning strike caused wildfire near Beulah

Forest Service rangers say lightning started the 80-acre Ditch Creek Fire that's burning in steep terrain in Custer County northwest of the town of Beulah.

A pilot first spotted the fire wednesday morning. By Thursday afternoon nearly 90 firefighters, 4 airplanes and 3 helicopters has arrived to help fight the smoke and flames.

US Forset Service Public Information Officer Gregg Goodland say it is challenging to reach the fire by foot.

"We're gonna try to do the best that we can to try and knock that thing down from the air," Goodland said. "The largest concern that we have is the safety of our ground firefighters because of the steep and rugged and remote terrain that we have it's very, very unsafe for them right now."

At Beulah Elementary, students shared their building with firefigthers during sixth-grade orientation. The fire isn't forcing evacutions just yet, but long time resident Bob Purvis senses the danger.

"You're bound to be concerned," Purvis said. "Of course if the wind changes it can move fast."
Purvis was evacuated during the Mason Gulch Fire seven summers ago.

A campground was evacuated and a handful of buildings are threatened. Goodland says those home have not yet been evacuated, but a thunderstorm could quickly change the fire behavior.

He hopes the weather will treat his teams favorably so that this fire doesn't reach that point.

"We have to continually evaluate that safety, the complexity of the fire and whether those crews can get in and out of there, primarily out of there, safely."



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