Snow in the Black Hills doesn’t mean fire season is over

Local News

THE BLACK HILLS, S.D. (KELO) — Snow is covering parts of the Black Hills but that doesn’t reduce the fire risks.

It’s about 30 degrees here in Wasta which is about a half-hour away from Rapid City. Right now, there are some snow flurries in the air, but a fire nearby is still very active.

Carrie Schell lives on a ranch just outside of Wasta. Fires are always in the back of her mind… even in the winter.

“If people are smoking and your chimney catches fire, things that are just normal everyday occurrences that people don’t think about. Just because we did have a couple inches of snow, we are still extremely dry and this is an extremely dry year for us,” Schell said.

Today the fire danger in most of the Black Hills is low. However, tomorrow it’s expected to be high.

“Right now, we’ve just gotten a little bit of a snowfall, still going to see some falling this week and so on but it really doesn’t stop fire season for us, for a couple of reasons,” Tjaden said.

Rapid Valley Fire Chief Joe Tjaden says as grass and trees die out for the winter, they become more flammable.

“We’re not going to see the typical wildland fires that people are thinking of with the 20 and 30 foot flame lengths, we’ll see more 1 foot, 2 foot but they will still be out there and they can still burn up a bit of area,” Tjaden said.

That’s why Schell’s family takes precautions, no matter what time of the year it is.

“We always have water on standby. We were able to get a few fire extinguishers from the base and so that helped because it does take a while for us even to get here, we live 5 miles away and it could take us 10 to 15 minutes just to get to the firehouse so if we have fire extinguishers on all of the tractors and balers, it does wonders,” Schell said.

You can stay updated on the changing fire risk levels at the National Weather Service website.

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