South Dakota wildfire grows beyond Custer State Park borders

Fire near Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park. Photo courtesy of Whispering Pines VFD. 

CUSTER, S.D. (AP) - Strong winds are fanning the flames of a growing wildfire in South Dakota, pushing the fire beyond the borders of the Custer State Park and prompting new evacuations.

Custer County Emergency Management director Mike Carter said Wednesday that 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 began Monday. Its cause is under investigation.