Controlled burns mitigate fire risk near Deadwood

The Forest Service lit slash piles ablaze in an effort to curb wildfire danger.
Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 7:04 PM CST
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DEADWOOD, S.D. (KOTA) - It’s always wildfire season in the Black Hills, so forest management groups are always working to mitigate the risks, by burning slash piles.

“Any treatment that we look at doing, we want to be able to reduce the severity and intensity of future wild land fires,” said Brian Rafferty, Assistant Fire Management Officer, North Zone Fire. “When we can reduce the amount of fuel on the ground, it burns with less intensity, and then the severity of the fire is less impactful to the residual stand of trees.”

Rafferty said crews of six burned about 200 slash piles on Wednesday because of the ideal temperatures, and the four to six inches of standing snow.

Rafferty plans to take advantage of the recent snowfall.

“We’re going to be very aggressive, trying to get as many piles as we can with that kind of snow because it’s actually the perfect depth for us to burn,” said Rafferty. “We chose to burn the lower half of this road two weeks ago because the snow conditions on the upper half of the slope weren’t where we wanted them to be.”

The area burned Wednesday crossed jurisdictions, but Rafferty says the collaboration between state and local entities is not a problem.

“When we’re able to do that, it’s a more efficient process for us, as we know, wild land fire does not stop at any individual boundary, and we can impact more acreage,” said Rafferty.

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