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The Latest: Custer park fire grows dramatically overnight

CUSTER, S. D. – The Latest on a wildfire in Custer State Park in South Dakota’s Black Hills (all times are local):

11:20 pm

Officials say that a wildfire that began in western South Dakota’s Custer State Park has grown enormously during the night.

They say that the fire grew from approximately 6 square miles (16 kilometers) on Tuesday to about 55 square miles (142 square kilometres) on Wednesday 7 percent contained.

They say no homes or buildings in the park have been destroyed, and an attempt to protect the popular State Game Lodge by the burning of downed trees and grass between it and the wildfire is successful.

Custer County Emergency Management director Mike Carter said earlier Wednesday that residents of about 200 homes east of the park have been evacuated or warned to evacuate.

Officials say that the cities of Fairburn and Buffalo Gap are still to be evacuated.

The fire started Monday. The cause is under investigation.

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7:35 pm

Strong winds fanning the flames of a growing wildfire in South Dakota, pushing the fire beyond the limits of the Custer State Park and prompted new evacuations.

Custer County Emergency Management director Mike Carter said Wednesday that the residents of about 200 homes east of the park have been evacuated or warned to evacuate.

The park remains closed as firefighters battle the fire that has consumed more than 6.25 square miles (16.2 square kilometers) and was 7 percent contained late Tuesday. Carter says aerial surveys Wednesday, will give officials an idea of how much it has grown.

A small number of people were evacuated from Legion Lake Lodge, the former Star Academy East Campus, and Blue Bell Lodge Tuesday.

The fire started Monday. The cause is under investigation.

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