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Weather Makes Myrtle Fire Unpredictable

July 20, 2012, 5:04 PM by Derek Olson

Weather Makes Myrtle Fire Unpredictable
PRINGLE, SD -

The Myrtle Fire started more than 24 hours ago between Pringle, South Dakota and Wind Cave National Park. In just one day its already estimated to have consumed around 8,000 acres and is forcing people from their homes.

The heat is a big contributor to how volatile the Myrtle Fire has become and how quickly it has spread.  Fortunately, with fire activity down in the Rocky Mountain region, there are many resources available to help tackle this blaze.

"A lot of them are overworked already because of the long summer we've had already.  But the heat just makes the fuel dry out more and makes the fire more volatile," U.S. Forest Service's Jake Diedtrich said.

Add shifting winds to the equation and there's no telling what could happen.

"Mother Nature is unpredictable and a slight variation in the wind will change the direction of the fire's path.  Hopefully, we'll be ready to react and evacuate accordingly and move resources around," Todd Hoover with Type II Operations said.

Fire resources from all over the Rocky Mountain region, including Wyoming and Colorado as well as other western states, are here helping crews battle the Myrtle Fire.

"As people keep coming in everybody keeps filling in different roles.  As it is with the fire organization everybody works well together and keep filling in gaps and filling in gaps until the fire is caught," Diedtrich said.

The Custer County Sheriff says that between 100 and 150 homes are threatened, pre-evacuation orders have been sent out, and many of those residents have already evacuated.

"We've got a real good bunch of guys out there that are working real hard to try and start some containment lines on this fire and try to protect the structures and stuff out there," Hoover said.

A Type-One Incident Management Team, which is trained to tackle the most complex and potentially destructive fires, will arrive on-scene for a briefing in the next couple of hours.

The team will assume command of the blaze Saturday morning.

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