RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — Governor Kristi Noem has signed an executive order, declaring a State of Emergency in South Dakota. With the drought, there are multiple fires burning in the state right now. This is what it looks like from our live cam in Rapid City as the Schroeder Fire continues to burn just west of the city. So far, it has burned about 2,100 acres. The fire has forced hundreds of people to evacuate.
Crews on the Schroeder fire will be reaching 50% containment as soon as tonight. I spoke with authorities who say some evacuees may be able to go home tomorrow morning.
It’s been an exhausting two days for crews battling the Schroeder Fire just west of Rapid City.
“We’ve got folks here from the state, federal, volunteer fire departments from across the state.”
Two South Dakota National Guard helicopters have also joined the fight.
“We got like over 250 firefighters here and for them to come into the Black Hills and show up in places where they have not been before and protect homes and properties has really been phenomenal,” Scott Jacobson, Black Hills National Forest, said.
Unfortunately, for the first 24-hours the containment remained at zero percent. But crews are hopeful.
“The fire is probably going to be going for the next couple of days smoldering. And there’s going to be fuels that are burning. We’re are going to have crews out there monitoring the fire, getting a line around the fire and also protecting structures so a lot of work to do the next couple days but I feel confident that the next few days we should have a pretty good handle on this thing, as long as mother nature cooperates with us,” Jacobson said.
All of the agencies are meeting here at the regional command center located at the Stevens High School.
The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office is in charge of evacuations and road closures.
“It’s somewhere between two, and three-hundred homes we did the evacuation on so we are talking quite a few folks,” Whelchel said.
Chief Deputy Willie Whelchel says it’s hard for people to leave their homes, so he’s thankful that families have been cooperative.
“We try to give them as much time as we can so they can get the important things, their heirlooms, their animals and all that as they leave so we really try and work with them and do it as quickly as we can,” Whelchel said.
At a briefing not too long ago, we also learned that a new incident management team will be coming from Colorado. We will keep you updated on the Schroeder Fire as we get more information.