High Winds Spark Fire In ‘Boneyard’ Outside Eagle Butte Mine In Gillette

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By Kevin Killough, energy reporter

High winds toppled powerlines Thursday morning, sparking a grass fire outside the Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette.

Firefighters with the Campbell County Fire Department responded to a grass fire along Highway 14-16 near the Eagle Butte Mine shortly after 1 a.m. Thursday, according to a department press release. The responders observed a fast-moving grass fire, and the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office closed the highway due to the reduced visibility from the smoke. 

Driven by “strong, erratic” winds, the fire spread across the mine property, electrical power poles, and six passenger pickup trucks there were parked in an equipment parking area. 

Eagle Butte Mine Manager Dan Baker said the trucks were just some “old junkers” that were “in a boneyard type place.” 

Baker said there were no injuries, and about 200 acres of grass on reclaimed land had been burned. 

It took firefighters about two hours to contain the fire. They determined it was caused by a downed, arcing power line. 

Baker said winds were approximately 50 mph at the time the fire started. 

The department press release said that, besides the sheriff’s office, 15 firefighters, one chief, and mine personnel responded to the incident. Baker gave most of the credit for the response to the fire department, adding that no mine equipment was used to contain the fire.

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