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Region supports town destroyed by wildfire

BISMARCK, N.D. -- The tiny town of Bucyrus in the state's southwest has been all but destroyed by a wind-fueled wildfire that displaced its 27 residents, prompting an outpouring of assistance from surrounding communities, officials said yesterday.

No one was injured in the fire that swept through late Wednesday, but the town is "pretty much completely lost," Adams County State's Attorney Aaron Roseland said.

The county commission chairman, Chuck Christman, said four homes and two abandoned farms were destroyed in the town about 60 miles south of Dickinson. He said seven structures, a church and a grain elevator were spared from a blaze pushed by near- 70-mph winds. The town's only business, a picture-framing shop, was destroyed. Trees and buildings still smoldered yesterday, he said.

Christman said the blaze scorched an area six miles long and half a mile wide, downing about 50 power poles and setting railroad ties on a nearby track ablaze.

"A lifetime of memories [is] gone for at least four families," he said. "People are rummaging through their losses. Everyone is pretty heavily grieved."

Edward and Angela McClusky, who live in a Washington, D.C., suburb, had planned to move back to the town to retire. Edward McClusky, 52, an electrical engineer, grew up in a picturesque white two-story home, now destroyed.

Firefighters from more than a dozen nearby towns helped fight the blaze.

Mayor Steve Turner, a volunteer firefighter, said area farmers who used tractors to dig fire lines did much to stop the spread of the blaze. "They just showed up," he said.

A shelter was set up in Hettinger, nearby, and residents did all they could to make the refugees feel welcome.

"A lot of strangers with water trucks came in from the oil fields," Christman said. "Thank goodness for cellphones and radios." -- AP

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