SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Thanks to all of this snow, Scenic Fire Chief and local rancher, Charles Maude says the fire danger is low.
“We are sitting pretty good so far for the year. It is definitely what we needed to see after the last two dry years,” Maude said.
Our recent storms are also helping his ranch.
“Last couple years, there was a lot of dirt blowing around, things of that nature, erosion happened. That is what we make our livelihood on is taking grass that is produced on the land and converting it for food for the people and if we don’t have moisture, that doesn’t happen very efficiently,” Maude said.
While things are looking better, the area could still use some more moisture in April and May.
“Coming out of 2022, we were definitely in a drought. We’ve had well above average precipitation across nearly all of the state this winter and it’s been awesome. We needed to fill the stock ponds and the rivers, but of course we have to think about it in terms of wildfires. It is going to grow a lot of grass and keep that herbaceous material growing through the summer months and potentially dry out later in the year,” Darren Clabo, State Fire Meteorologist, said.
“It sure better not quit on us or we will be right back to where we were,” Maude said.
“Looking at our summer fire season which really runs from July 4th through the Labor Day weekend, we really need to assess moisture in May and June. The moisture that we are getting right now is isn’t really going to impact our summer fire season as much so going forward the next couple months, we will definitely see what the potential will bring for the later fire season,” Clabo said.
And as the temperatures rise in the Black Hills, peak fire season is right around the corner.
Local volunteer fire departments in the area are urging everyone to continue to be fire cautious. Even though we’ve gotten plenty of snow, it doesn’t mean a wildfire can’t ignite at any moment.
“You need to be aware of the weather, you need to be aware of the surroundings that you are in and not be careless with anything that can give off any kind of a spark, anywhere across South Dakota, it’s just good common sense. You should have some kind of basic firefighting tool whether it’s an extinguisher with you or a shovel or a rake, something that can immediately stop a fire from taking off,” Jerome Harvey, Pennington County Fire Service, said.
By being fire cautious, you are not only protecting yourself but all of the first responders and Black Hill ranchers, including Maude.
“So it is something that is really everybody’s responsibility to be fire cautious because it isn’t just damage that could happen to you, loss of life, but it is the damage to other people, damage to crops, to livestock, to infrastructure, to housing. It can have a huge impact and really put our economy into a spin,” Harvey said.
“Even though it’s green, certain plants will still burn and that’s a key point at any time of the year. As it goes into summer, stuff starts maturing, the fire danger just creeps up even on a good year,” Maude said.