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U.S. Forest Service conducts ‘broadcast burn’ southwest of Rapid City

Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 6:10 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - A prescribed burn may have you wondering about the giant plume of smoke being seen from Rapid City today. The U.S. Forest service is asking to not call 911 if you’re concerned about the smoke.

Broadcast burns are used by the U.S. Forest Service to reduce dry fuels that make the forest more susceptible to devastating wildfires. And through Friday, The Forest Service is conducting one of these burns off Victoria Lake Road southwest of Rapid City.

Chris Stover, assistant fire management officer for the Black Hills National Forest, said that people shouldn’t be alarmed by these large, prescribed burns.

“During the summer, people see smoke in the woods and the get upset, rightfully so,” Stover said. “However, if we weren’t here to see it, this fire would be all over the place, all the time.”

Because current fires are regularly, and quickly, extinguished in the hills, things like dead trees and dry pine needles are left, providing fuel for potential future fires, which can cause even more destruction.

Stover said that more broadcast fires should take place to not only protect the forest, but also the surrounding ecosystem.

“If you don’t treat the surface fuels, you can end up with severe fire. Maybe not a catastrophic crown fire, but you can still do a lot of damage to the soil and water sheds.”

The Forest Service will burn up to 380 acres over the course of the rest of the week.

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