Hot, dry conditions create high fire danger in SD

Farm Forum

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Abundant summer rainfall has created heavy grass fuel loadings across the state and these grass fuels are starting to cure with hotter weather. Very hot weather is forecasted across the state in the next 48 hours and the Division of Wildland Fire is asking everyone to be careful with vehicle and equipment use in grassy areas for this time period and the upcoming fall season.

The Bitter Creek fire in Fall River County on September 1 burned 87 acres in a fast moving range fire started by vehicle use in a grassy area. The fire was located south of Angostura Reservoir and was suppressed by local volunteer fire departments and the South Dakota Division of Wildland Fire, along with local ranchers providing water support.

Despite the fact there was hardly any wind on the fire, flame lengths were observed to be over 12 feet in length in areas of heavy grass and clover, requiring firefighters to order the Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) stationed at the Hot Springs Airport.

“The SEAT made a crucial drop at the head of the fire to slow down the spread allowing the firefighters to catch up with the fire,” said Jeff Wiedow, Battalion Chief for the SD Division of Wildland Fire. “This fire would have been a lot bigger without the use of the SEAT.”