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Gusty northwest winds vexed firefighters trying to contain the Denke Fire 30 miles north of Wall Thursday.

By late afternoon, the Denke Fire had scorched about 500 acres east of the Creighton Road, according to Pennington County Fire Coordinator Denny Gorton. The fire was still burning in cedar-filled draws, but containment was estimated at 50 percent at 4:30 p.m.

The Wall Volunteer Fire Department estimated the fire at about 40 acres when the first unit arrived at the scene around 10:30 a.m. Within two hours the fire grew to 200 acres.

The first unit came across an injured man near the fire's origin. The man had been thrown from a horse and had no idea how long he had lain unable to move, Gorton said. The rider was taken by ambulance to Rapid City Regional Hospital.

Winds gusting up to 35 mph quickly pushed the fire to the south and southeast into the wooded draws. 

The fire's frontal advance slowed when it burned into a stubble field, Gorton said. Crews were putting in a dozer line around the fire's perimeter Thursday afternoon. They hoped to have a line around the fire by sundown.

A Bureau of Indian Affairs single engine aircraft tanker flew out of Pierre to make three drops on the fire, Gorton said.

Volunteers from 19 fire departments from Pennington, Custer, Meade, Haakon and Jackson counties fought the fire, along with units from the U.S. Forest Service, South Dakota Wildland Fire and Ellsworth Air Force Base.

Meanwhile, fire officials started releasing units from the 6,500-acre Cold Brook Fire in Wind Cave National Park. Portions of the area received rain overnight Wednesday into Thursday.

Smoke that is still visible is coming from trees still burning within the interior of the fire.

With containment at 90 percent, officials predicted full containment by noon Friday, at which time park officials will take charge of monitoring the burned area.

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Contact Andrea J. Cook at 394-8423 or andrea.cook@rapidcityjournal.com

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