Progress made with western SD wildfiresROSEBUD (AP) — Firefighters in western South Dakota have made some progress with wildfires in the region, but Sunday’s low humidity and gusty winds were increasing the fires’ intensity, authorities said
ROSEBUD (AP) — Firefighters in western South Dakota have made some progress with wildfires in the region, but Sunday’s low humidity and gusty winds were increasing the fires’ intensity, authorities said
“We are seeing some extreme fire behavior,” said Joe Lowe, commander of fire crews battling a series of wildfires Sunday, referred to as the Longhorn Complex on the Rosebud reservation.
The wildfire began as four separate fires caused by lightning Thursday night, then merged into two fires Saturday and broke into three on Sunday. Together, the fires covered 18,002 acres, and authorities said the fires were about 25 percent contained.
Jeni Lawver, an information officer for the fire operations, said Sunday that 50 homes have been evacuated. Most of those are in the community of Spring Creek, which is being threatened by a wildfire that is about a quarter-mile away.
Lawver said the combination of gusty, erratic winds, above-average temperatures and low humidity was affecting firefighters’ ability to contain the fire.
“That isn’t very fire-friendly weather,” she said.
South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard toured the affected area Sunday and met with firefighters.
“Do your job, work hard, and be safe,” he told fire crews.
Nearby, the Myrtle fire, about a mile east of Pringle in the Black Hills, had grown from 7,000 acres Friday to more than 9,000 acres Saturday, or about 14 square miles. The fire was about 20 percent contained on Sunday, fire spokesman Chris Barth said.
More than an inch of rain fell overnight in some areas of the Black Hills, which helped firefighters with their efforts.
“We welcomed the precipitation but folks are still very focused on the task at hand,” Barth said, noting that firefighters were working to improve and hold containment lines on the northern perimeter Sunday.
Evacuation orders were posted Friday for 242 homes, following an earlier alert to 33 residents. Those were the most recent numbers available.
About 570 personnel, with the help of several helicopters, were fighting the Myrtle fire. Some of the helicopters also were being shared at the Longhorn Complex, Barth said.
The Myrtle fire has shut down several roads and forced the closure of Wind Cave National Park.