Fire danger low, air quality good in Black Hills

The air quality in Rapid City is still considered "good," according to the EPA's Air Quality Index.
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - The air in the Black Hills has been smokier than normal, due to the wildfires burning to the West. However, the risk of wildfires is relatively low and the air quality in the area is still fairly good.

Summer of 2019 has been one of the wettest on record, both in South Dakota and for many states across the country.

The moisture has kept some fires in check.

The normally high-quality air in Rapid City has been slightly effected from some blown-in smoke from out-of-state wildfires, but air quality in much of South and North Dakotas, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana is still considered "good" to "moderate" by the EPA's Air Quality Index.

Pennington County Fire Administrator Jerome Harvey said that the fire units are prepared, but they're not worried about smoke and know the impact from weather patterns.

"If you spent any time here in western South Dakota or in the Black Hills region, you'll be familiar with the weather patterns," Harvey said.

"And, with the weather patterns that we're experiencing in the past few days, there has been some blow in smoke from fire in Idaho and Montana. That's not unusual and has been a weather pattern here since recorded history."

There are some fires burning in both Wyoming and parts of Montana. State Fire Meteorologist, Darren Clabo, is in Wyoming, aiding with these fires.

Like Harvey, Clabo is not worried about fire danger in Rapid City, and acknowledged that the smoke that has blown in from the area is mainly a comparative issue.

"These fires have been putting up a lot of smoke," Clabo said. "They saw some pretty extreme growth both in Monday and Wednesday, earlier this week. However, that fire growth has been moderated by some more humid conditions, a little bit of precipitation, more moisture, both yesterday and today. And we do expect more moisture in the coming days. So, the overall smoke impacts should diminish over the coming days."

Clabo said that right now, the Black Hills would need to see very dry conditions develop and stick around for weeks before there would be any concern about major wildfires.