Crews from around South Dakota have dispatched to the Black Hills for help. Renner sent its second crew this week. The volunteer fire department didn't have a problem finding the people to go but say that won’t put them short if a fire sparks at home.
“It’s very, very, very dry. It doesn't take anything right now to start a fire,” Renner Fire Chief Mike Schmitz said.
Just days before the family barbeques planned all over the county, Schmitz expects the dry weather to fuel a potential flood of fire calls not heard by the department for years
“The last couple of years, the call numbers have been down on the Fourth, like three or four. But in past years when it was really dry they were 10 to 15 on July 4th,” Schmitz said.
He expects the 2012 numbers to fall in the middle. Schmitz is already taking questions from residents about the town's regulations. And just outside of town, you can tell people have started celebrating early as spent rockets litter the roadside.
“It's legal to shoot fireworks. I just ask them to be really cautious,” said Schmitz. “And if a fire did start from fireworks, don't try and put it out. Call for help right away.”
Part of the department has already gone west to help battle the Parker Peak Fire. They will be gone for two weeks. But Schmitz says there are more than 30 others on the roster available. It means he's not hard up for help when a call comes in.
“We have another truck right here that handles grass fires locally. So we're not short-handed,” he said.
Minnehaha County has not declared a burn ban but the fire chiefs in the county could do so if dry conditions continue. That likely wouldn't come before the July 4th holiday.