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Dakota Fire Crews In 'Mop Up' Mode

June 29, 2012, 6:04 PM by Derek Olson

Dakota Fire Crews In 'Mop Up' Mode

Officials say that the Dakota Fire just west of Rapid City has burned a total of 328 acres and is now 60 percent contained.

Crews are now working to strengthen the lines around the fire, so that if the weather changes they'll stand a better chance of keeping it under control.

On Thursday many fire crews battling the Dakota Fire used drop torches to help burn up fuel ahead of the raging wildfire.

"The wind was blowing everything back up into the fire, so that worked extremely well," Bear Mountain's acting crew boss Jim Burk said.

Thanks to days of hard work and weather that's cooperated, fire crews at the Dakota Fire are entering "mop-up" mode.

"We're trying to mop everything up about 200 feet in, and just kind of make sure there's no hot stuff too close to the line so if the wind starts coming up it doesn't blow embers and burning stuff across the line," Burk said.

Some of the work that helped prevent this fire from becoming even larger was finished before the blaze was even sparked.

"You can look at this area and see that there has been work done here where the trees had been thinned out, and that's a lot of what saved us, too, was them being thinned out so it didn't have fuel to get into the top of the trees and make some major runs," Burk said.

In fact, the Dakota Fire has actually been a good thing for the area of forest it scorched.

"There was a lot of branches and logs and stuff on the ground that had been laying here for a while and it's cleaning all of that up.  And if we ever get a shot of rain it'll be the greenest part out here," Burk said.

In spite of the progress crews are making, Burk says that the work on Dakota Point is far from over.

"We'll have people on it for a while.  They're pretty concerned with the conditions that we're seeing, we want to make sure that it doesn't get out and get away from us again," Burk said.

More than 200 firefighters from around the country are still working on the Dakota Fire.  With no end in sight for the hot and dry weather, officials are urging people to be extremely careful with flammable materials.

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