Black Hills remain dry, fire officials encourage safety for holiday weekend

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 5:41 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The Schroeder Fire west of Rapid City remains at 47% contained as winds are beginning to die down, showing hope in the battle against the blaze. But firefighters warn that conditions across the hills remain dry, and they’re warning people to be careful as the holiday weekend approaches.

The U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday shows the Black Hills area in Moderate to Severe drought conditions. This as crews are continuing to battle the Schroeder Fire that started Monday.

Incident Meteorologist Darren Clabo hopes the reduced winds will help contain the fire.

“This fire was really a wind-driven fire, to begin with, and if those winds can stay under 20 mph, I think we’re going to be in much better shape,” Clabo said. “But the conditions are so incredibly dry right now that any spark has a very high likelihood of causing a fire.”

Clabo says he can’t remember the last time humidity and moisture levels were this low at this time of year.

Rocky Mountain Blue Section Chief Chris Zoller said that this is a sign to be extra careful while out in the hills during the Easter weekend. He says even parking on grass can be dangerous.

“Your exhaust system can start fires on that,” Zoller said. “the same thing with ATV’s and UTV’s, you have hot exhaust and that can cause problems, and If they’re out recreating, making sure they have campfires in designated campgrounds, which is the rule in the Black Hills, and making sure that they’re not being careless with any fire that they might have.”

Effective Thursday, through traffic, is open on West Hwy 44.

Nameless Cave Road and Cleghorn Canyon remain closed and evacuated as fire operations continue.

A fund has been set up at the Black Hills Area Community Foundation to provide support for those affected.

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