UPDATE: Schroeder fire grows to 2,100 acres; Evacuation orders, road closures to remain in place

Local News

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — Crews have been responding to a handful of fast-moving fires all across KELOLAND.

Pennington County officials have updated evacuation maps late Tuesday night.

Residents can now return to:

  • Cavern Rd

Roads Blocked at:

  • Highway 44 at Chapel Lane
  • Highway 44 at Johnson Siding Fire Station #2
  • Red Dale at National Guard Way
  • Pine Dale Ridge at S Berry Pine Rd
  • Westberry Hill Rd at Nemo Road

Evacuation areas from Schroeder Fire:

  • Cleghorn Canyon
  • Nameless Cave Rd
  • Pinedale Heights
  • Dark Canyon
  • Magic Canyon
  • Blake Rd
  • Camp Mniluzahan

4 p.m. CDT

State officials provided an update on the Schroeder fire during an afternoon news conference Tuesday.

Incident commander Rob Powell said the Schroeder Fire is about 50% contained and had covered about 2,100 acres.

But roads will remain closed and evacuated residents will not yet be able to return home.

While progress is being made, firefighters are still being challenged by wind, the scarred landscape from a 1988 fire and the development of houses in many parts of the area, Powell said.

“It was quite a fire fight last night…,” Powell said of conditions in the Cleghorn Canyon. Firefighters battled the blaze and sustained winds, he said.

Homes in the Cleghorn Canyon are in the most eminent danger of damage because there is a lot of heat in the fire in that area, Powell said.

Cleghorn Canyon remains a challenge but some evacuated residents could return to other areas soon, Powell said.

The area of Schroeder Road and Westberry Trails is “looking really good,” Powell said of one area of improvement.

Pennington County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Mueller said the county will be evaluating the closed roads Wednesday morning in the hope that some will be opened.

The county sheriff’s office and the South Dakota Wildfire are investigating the cause of the fire.

“We know exactly where it started,” Powell said.

South Dakota is the first in the nation to experience a large wildland fire this year, Governor Kristi Noem said. So resources that may have been typically available during a wildfire weren’t yet, Noem said. Despite that, South Dakota firefighters have done excellent work, Noem said.

But out-of-state resources will be arriving Tuesday night when the Rocky Mountain Incident Blue Team arrives.

Officials said that incident team will take over incident command.

The overall focus of the firefighting is now is stopping any new fires from starting, said Jay Esperance of South Dakota Wildland Fire.

The fire has damaged or destroyed several structures and burned timber.

Mueller said a residence on Blue Sky Road had been destroyed.

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Noem also said progress was being made at several other fires in the state including a fire in Perkins County. She said that fire had spread about 16 miles and covered about 10,000 acres.

Firefighters had also made progress on a fire near Interstate 90 near Kadoka.

3:30 p.m. CDT

With multiple fires burning in the Black Hills, fire officials plan to give an update on containment efforts.

We’re expecting to hear from those leading the response along with South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem during an upcoming news conference.

It is scheduled to start at 4 p.m.CDT/3 p.m. MDT. CLICK HERE to watch it live on KELOLAND.com.

11:55 a.m. CT

It has been a frightening 24 hours on the western edge of Rapid City.

Overnight, the fire crossed into Cleghorn Canyon and Nameless Cave areas. Authorities say another home was lost.

At this hour, the fight continues to stop the wind-fueled fire from damaging any more homes or buildings.

The Schroeder Fire has burned roughly 1,900 acres so far with zero containment.

However, firefighters are working hard on the fire lines to keep flames away from homes and other buildings.

Right now, the South Dakota National Guard has offered up two helicopters with buckets of water to put over the fire. South Dakota Wildland says crews will have help from a heavy air tanker that will toss water and retardants over the fire at noon mountain time.

The Schroeder fire has forced hundreds of people from their homes.

Here’s a look at the latest evacuations.

Schroeder fire evacuations as of noon CT on Tuesday, March 30

We are monitoring the situation and will let you know about any updates on KELOLAND.com and our KELOLAND News app

11:35 a.m. CT

KELOLAND News is getting video of some of the damage from the Schroeder Fire. KELOLAND’s Sydney Thorson will have a live update from the scene on Midday in KELOLAND. The fire has been burning for more than 24 hours and the latest update from authorities is the current status continues to be evaluated.

“Fire Managers and the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office continue to evaluate the current status of evacuations and closures. They will be meeting later this afternoon to update these decisions based on firefighter and public safety. We understand that this is a stressful time and appreciate the public’s patience. For text message updates, you can opt in by texting GPFire to 85511.”

10:30 a.m. CT

The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office says the Schroeder Road Fire is zero percent contained as of Tuesday morning.

In an update on Facebook, authorities say the fire crossed into Cleghorn Canyon and Nameless Cave areas overnight. Firefighters took part in what’s described as “an intense structure fight,” but one home was lost.

The fire is still a half mile away from Chapel Valley and at this time, fire officials don’t feel evacuations are necessary.

A number of roads do remain blocked to traffic including:

  • Highway 44 at Chapel Lane
  • Highway 44 at Johnson Siding Fire Station #2
  • Red Dale at National Guard Way
  • Pine Dale Ridge at S Berry Pine Rd
  • Westberry Hill Rd at Nemo Road

9 a.m. CT

On Tuesday morning, an update was posted on the Schroeder Fire 2021 Facebook page. Officials say the fire was active overnight in the Cleghorn Canyon and Nameless Cave areas.

According to the post, firefighters actively ‘implemented structure protection’ in those areas.

“The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office along with a structure assessment team will be assessing the area once it is deemed safe for access,” the Facebook post said.

8 a.m. CT

The Schroeder Fire started Monday morning, and with the day’s 50-mile an hour winds, it quickly spread inside city limits. It is estimated to be around 1,900, and officials say two homes have burned, along with several outbuildings.

FEMA has already approved an emergency request for help. Fire officials have requested assistance from outside agencies, along with an aircraft. A team from Colorado is making its way to western South Dakota to help crews battling the Schroeder Fire. The team’s plane is able to detect hot spots that may be hard to see with all the smoke.

It’s already forced hundreds of people from their homes. Other people in the area have been told to “be ready” to evacuate if needed. Fire Officials have opened Schroeder Road back up to residents, however, all other evacuation areas including Westberry Trails remain closed.

Crews also responded to two fires in the Keystone area. One of them shut down roads and closed down Mount Rushmore Monday afternoon. As of 3 a.m. Monday, Mount Rushmore is still closed.

According to Gov. Noem, the monument and businesses are not in danger, but the situation is constantly changing.

According to the South Dakota Department of Transportation, a section of I-90 between Kodoka and Murdo is once again open. A grassfire near Murdo caused at least one crash and temporarily shut down that stretch of Interstate 90.

We will have team coverage throughout the day, including live reports from KELOLAND’s Sydney Thorson and Dan Santella. Stay with KELOLAND News on-air and online as we give updates on the fire.

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