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April 05, 2016 10:04 PM

Homeowner Says Prescribed Fire Saved Home From Wildfire

Things have changed at Phil Lampert's favorite morning coffee spot since the Cold Fire came roaring over the ridge last weekend.

"I was walking from the barn back up to the house when I saw the poof of smoke coming over the Ridge," Lampert says.

Flames soon followed, riding a gusty wind through the pine forest and dry meadows as fire crews responded to Lampert's emergency call.

"By the time I got to my west gate to unlock it, at my west boundary, that fire was already coming down the hill to the ranch," Lampert said. "So it was a little nerve wracking there for a while."

Firefighters saved the place, with help from Lampert's years of tree-thinning and a state-federal-private prescribed burn nearby more than a year ago.

"Because of that, a lot of that fuel was eliminated in that fire and was no longer there to help fuel this fire," Lampert said.

"The effect of the fire moving from the untreated into the treated area was very dramatic, and really showed the effectiveness of prescribed fire," said Jerry Krueger, deputy Black Hills National Forest supervisor. "The fire flame length, because of the reduction of fuels, really dropped down."

And that's about as close a call as Lampert ever wants to have at his dream house in the woods. The blackened landscape smolders all around, but his home still stands.

"Another day in paradise," Lampert said.

As of Tuesday night, the fire's size has been reduced to 1,896 acres and is 60 percent contained. In total, 1,323 acres of Black Hills National Forest, 316 acres of Wind Cave National Park, and 256 acres of private land have burned.

Crews are now battling another smaller blaze near the Cold Fire. That one erupted in high winds late this afternoon and has burned through 20 acres.
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