CANISTOTA, S.D. (KELO) — Over the past few weeks we’ve seen every season here in KELOLAND — from several inches to feet of snow to spring weather and now summer temps.
And despite all the snow, some areas are already drying up and posing a high fire risk.
Four fire departments were on the scene of a wildfire on an acreage on the east side of Lake Vermillion Wednesday night. Crews were called there a few different times until it was fully contained Thursday afternoon.
It’s that time of year where fresh vegetation has yet to sprout and the old grass is drying up, making for a high fire danger. It’s keeping fire crews busy as they try containing fast-moving and unpredictable fires.
“Very hectic. Time is of the essence. There’s quite a few structures around here, too, so try to get everything under control as quickly as you can,” Canistota firefighter Scott Marquardt said.
It’s not something you’d expect after the ground was covered with snow not long ago.
“I sure wouldn’t of. I figured there was more subsoil moisture than what we have, so yeah, with the temperatures we’ve had and the wind and low humidity, it dries out in a hurry,” Canistota fire chief Adam Richarz said.
Fire departments from Canistota, Humboldt, Hartford and Parker were all called out to fight the wildfire.
It’s one thing to fight a fire on a day when it’s calm, but when the winds are blowing strong, it just makes it that much more difficult.
“It’s a nightmare sometimes because sometimes you can’t fight it as fast as it’s blowing, and it’s really, like out there, ravines and stuff, you can’t get around as well, so it’s just tougher to access where you need to go. Just being mindful of which way the wind is blowing so you don’t get trapped by the fire,” Richarz said.
If you plan to have any control burns, make sure to take the proper precautions.
“Just be mindful of the wind. Look at the forecast coming up. Not just the day you might burn, but two, three days in advance and just factor that in, and just be mindful of where you’re burning,” Richarz said.
“Just make sure you’ve got a plan in place for the what-ifs. Have some water on hand. Have some equipment on hand,” Marquardt said.
All it can take is the simplest spark for a wildfire to run rampant.
“Without the green growth coming up yet, this grass is super dry and it doesn’t take much to get it going,” Marquardt said.
That’s not the only area crews have battled grassfires. The Kingsbury County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook that three departments in the county were all out on separate wildfire calls Thursday evening at the same time. The county even issued a burn ban.
Arlington fire chief Trevor Keating sent us these photos of his crew working a fire in Oakwood Lakes State Park over in Brookings County.
Keating says they got it contained before it reached the house in the background.