‘Feeling cautiously optimistic’: A close look at the 244 Fire close to Mount Rushmore

Local News

NEAR KEYSTONE, S.D. (KELO) — Wildfire has hit the scenery at the foot of an internationally-known KELOLAND icon: Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

“We never like to see wildfires get started, they’re a fact of life in the west … but the most important thing is when they happen to get around them, to get the resources that we need on them to make the most effective and the quick stop that we did,” said Travis Mason-Bushman, spokesperson for the 244 Fire who works for the US Forest Service.

This fire which started within the memorial is called the 244 Fire; Highway 244 goes to the famous sculpture. As of early Tuesday night, the fire was 30% contained, covering around 117 acres.

“The good news is we had a lot of resources that we were able to get on it and get around it and make some really good stops up in the structures area, defend those, defend people’s homes, defend people’s property,” Travis Mason-Bushman said. “We got some black ground, but we don’t have anybody hurt, and we don’t have any homes or businesses or structures lost, and that’s the number one thing that we’re thinking about is people’s safety.”

Different responders have contributed to the fight.

“We’ve got about 60 firefighters working on this fire and that includes a whole cross-section of support from the state, from the federal, from the local communities,” Mason-Bushman said. “We’ve got a National Guard Blackhawk helicopter that’s been going out here doing some water dropping.”

The prognosis is good.

“I think we’re feeling cautiously optimistic with the weather conditions that we’ve had, the progress that we’re making, the resources that we have available on this fire,” Mason-Bushman said.
Mason-Bushman told KELOLAND News that as of 7:00 p.m. Tuesday night, the fire had reached 123 acres. 50% of it was contained.

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