MINNEHAHA COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) — With the dry conditions through the weekend, the fire danger is high across KELOLAND. Authorities are asking people to take extra precautions.
“When things are dry, the grass is dead, it’s cured, it becomes windy every spring like this and then when we start getting warm days like this, those grasses, those fuels dry out and it’s, like I said, not unusual to have more extreme fire behavior this time of year,” Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Captain Rocky Foster said.
As temperatures rise this weekend, fires could spread quickly — which is what happened earlier this week, near Corson, and in other parts of the state.
“We just encourage people not to burn ditches, big brush piles, things like that, but like I said, you can have a fire pit. You can have a burn barrel, you know, you can grill, but you just got to be aware of the hazards,” Minnehaha County director of Emergency Management Jason Gearman said.
Don’t leave your fire pit or grill unattended and have water on hand.
“Don’t underestimate how long a pile of sticks or debris is going to burn, because in many cases just to the outside eye or looking at, it might look like it’s out, but if you got in there and starting digging around, there’s almost always embers and hot spots in that fire for several days, maybe even a week afterwards,” Foster said.
With the high winds and dry conditions, all it takes is for a hot ember to blow away and ignite a wildfire within minutes.
Gearman says Minnehaha county does not want to enact a burn ban, but it may need to depending on what happens with the weather.
“The rural fire departments are all volunteer, so if they get called out to these fires, and we’ve had some issues in the past where they get multiple fire calls, they get busy. They have to leave their jobs. They have to go fight these fires and there’s an expense to that, so we encourage people with weather like this just to hold off on burning,” Gearman said.
Before you burn anything, you should consider reaching out to your local fire chief about doing a controlled burn to lower the risk of it spreading.