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October 03, 2011 10:00 PM

Black Hills At High Risk For Wildfires

Custer State Park, SD


Dry weather along with a chance of strong winds forecasted for the Black Hills could create a dangerous fuel for fires.

The conditions have prompted fire officials to conduct a series of prescribed burns around the Black Hills in an effort to reduce dry fuels, such as prairie grass.

Beth Hermanson, of the South Dakota Wildland Fire Suppression Team, acted as the fire information officer for Monday's prescribed burn in Custer State Park, which covered 99 acres.

"We just have not had much moisture in the last six weeks to a month," Hermanson said.

Couple the dry conditions with the record-setting heat that has settled in over the region lately and it's motivating officials to increase the fire danger to very high.

"You can't really minimize that risk. What you can do is ask folks to be careful," Hermanson said.

That means attending to any open flame at all times, only having campfires in certified fire pits, and safely disposing of all cigarettes and matches. But that's not all.

"Not parking in the tall grass with your hot vehicles, using catalytic converters, or if you've got a campfire make sure it's out cold before you leave it," Hermanson said.

And with the unseasonably-warm temperatures prompting more people to go camping, fishing and hunting, Hermanson says if people follow those simple guidelines they could help keep the Black Hills safe.

"You can do all that stuff, we just ask people to be very cautious and to just use common sense. That's what it is, common sense," Hermanson said.
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