Firefighters beat back a forest fire that prompted the evacuation of more than 1,000 people near Mount Rushmore National Memorial, allowing it to be reopened, while a second blaze nearly brushed the Alaska Pipeline.
In South Carolina, a 1,000-acre blaze jumped plowed fire lines in four locations Thursday and ate up another 150 acres of timber and brush dried by heat and drought, while land managers in Alaska took a new tack in their battle against four fires raging over 270,000 acres.Officials in South Dakota retreated from earlier projections that the Custer State Park fire, which had already burned 13,000 acres, might be contained Sunday.
About 1,000 people in or near the park, the town of Keystone and Mount Rushmore were evacuated Wednesday night as the fire in the Black Hills National Forest spread northward, but a wind shift stopped the flames short of the grantite monument to four presidents.
Richard Homann, another fire information officer, said Thursday afternoon that crews weren't digging fire lines because the terrain and heat from the fire kept them from getting close enough.
In South Carolina, timberland near Nixonville defied firefighters by jumping their lines.
Instead of using water, firefighters plow up large fire breaks to starve the fire and stop its spread.
"We can keep it under control but it won't actually be out until we get some rain . . . not just a little rain, but a lot of rain," said forestry spokeswoman Jennie Morris.
In Alaska, firefighters held a blaze in check that had come within 10 miles of the Alaska Pipeline while land managers altered their overall strategy because of debilitating smoke.
Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. spokesman Tom Brennan said the pipeline stands in a large, cleared right-of-way, is constructed of thick steel that has been heavily insulated and was not susceptible to serious fire damage.
Northern Alaska's major fires are a 126,000-acre blaze 15 miles north of Livengood; a 40,000-acre fire near Ambler; a 53,000-acre fire northeast of Fort Yukon; and a 51,000-acre fire north of Central. All but the last are manned. More than 600 firefighters are on the job.