Indian Canyon Fire spares Edgemont but harms ranchers

Farm Forum

EDGEMONT, S.D. (AP) – Firefighters managed to save the Black Hills community of Edgemont from a wildfire, but some area ranchers who lost hay and pasture now have to figure out how to feed their cattle through the rest of summer and the coming winter.

The Indian Canyon Fire that was sparked by lightning over the weekend scorched 13,500 acres, or about 21 square miles, according to the Great Plains Fire Information service.

About 20 homes on the outskirts of Edgemont were evacuated for a time on July 17, and the 750 residents of the community were put on notice that they might also have to leave. That didn’t materialize, and no injuries were reported or structures lost.

However, some ranches lost large swaths of pasture forage, hay bales and fence poles, and some are looking for missing livestock.

Ken Cassens estimated that about half of his grazing land was burned. He plans to sell some cattle and buy feed for his remaining animals to subsist on until next spring.

It could have been worse – at one point during the height of the fire, Cassens’ home and buildings were nearly surrounded by flames.

“When the fire’s all the way around three sides, why, yeah, you get a little worried,” he told the Rapid City Journal ( ).