The latest on regional wildland fires; Rankin Fire 100 percent contained

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The latest on multiple wildland fires across the Black Hills:


Rankin Fire (left), Beaver Fire (right), courtesy of Gail Schmidt



Sept. 13, 6:20 p.m.

An emerging incident just west of Wind Cave near the Cold Brook School started this afternoon. The preliminary size estimate was around 140 acres, starting on private land and quickly spreading to the north.



Photo Courtesy: Custer County Emergency Management

Sept. 15, 12:10 p.m.

Click here to view a boundary map of the Beaver Fire.


Sept. 14, 2:45 p.m

Ten structures are threatened, and 20 more structure are located within a mile of the fire.

Last night, an indirect dozer line was constructed around the fire. Now, crews are working to burn out unburned islands between the fire and the dozer line. This will help suffocate the existing fire by taking away potential fuels.

Custer County Emergency Management is handling all evacuations and road closures. Call 605-673-8152 for the latest information.

The public is asked to avoid traveling on roads in the vicinity of the fire for their own safety and the safety of firefighters.


10:25 a.m.

The Beaver Fire slowed overnight, but the fire has grown to 400 acres in size. No structures have been lost, although some were threatened.

The Custer County Sheriff's Office says there are no mandatory evacuations at this time, and the cause is still under investigation. However, Great Plains Dispatch lists the fire as a human-caused incident.

Area residents should expect to see heavy smoke in the area today. 

The Custer County Sheriff’s Office and Custer County Search and Rescue team are currently blocking many of the roadways. But the sheriff's office appears optimistic, as evidenced in a Facebook post on their page this morning.

"On a good note, the weather forecast for this weekend shows a favorable chance of rain! We greatly appreciate the public avoiding the immediate area."


Sept. 13, 6:20 p.m.

The Beaver Fire has grown to 150 acres. The fire is located 4 miles east of Pringle and 11 miles southeast of Custer.

Photo Courtesy: Pennington County Fire Service


3:55 p.m.

Portions of the following roads are closed in both directions as a 20-30 acre fire burns near Pringle: County Road 391 to Highway 385 to Highway 87.

The fire was reported around 2 p.m. and is located west of the Rankin fire. Federal, state and local firefighters are responding and putting structure protection into place.

At this time, the cause of the fire is unknown.



Sept. 16

The Rankin Fire is 100 percent contained. Command of the fire transitioned back to Wind Cave National Park.

All trails north of and including Wind Cave Canyon Trail remain closed.

Click here to view a boundary map of the Rankin Fire.


Sept. 15, 12:15 p.m.

There was no new growth of the fire on Thursday, but the acreage has increased to 2,133 acres due to better mapping. 

Crews continue to make good progress on containment, and fire behavior is expected to minimal due to cooler temperatures and rain. According to the fire incident commander, 202 personnel are currently on scnee, but some firefighter resources are being released and made available for other fires.

All trails north of and including Wind Cave Canyon Trail remain closed, but NPS 5 is now open. Travelers along U.S. Highway 385 and State Route 87 through Wind Cave National Park park are encouraged to use caution and watch for fire traffic.


Sept. 14, 3:45 p.m.

Wednesday night, crews contained the south edge of the fire. Now, the fire has reached 90 percent containment.

Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team Black has assumed command of the Rankin Fire. Today, crews will patrol established containment lines and mop up hot spots.

Travelers along U.S. Highway 385 and State Route 87 through Wind Cave National Park are encouraged to use caution as fire traffic will continue to be heavy. At times, smoke will impact roads in the park, and visitors are urged to slow down and use caution.

NPS 5, from the junction of State Route 87 to the junction of NPS 6 is closed, along with all trails north of and including Wind Cave Canyon Trail.


1:05 p.m.

After an initial assessment of 15 percent containment, the Rocky Mountain Coordination Center Incident Management now says the fire is 0 percent contained.


Sept. 13, 5:35 p.m.

The fire has grown to 1,192 acres.

Today, crews worked on line construction on the east and west boundaries of the fire. Ground crews were aided with water drops from two heavy air tankers and a South Dakota Air National Guard Black Hawk helicopter.

Photo Courtesy: National Park Service


4:50 p.m.

Public Information Officer Tom Farrell hopes that the new resources coming this evening combined with a favorable weather forecast will help agencies "get a good handle on this fire." 

"No one agency could do this type of job by themselves," he continued.


3:40 p.m.

Footage of a water drop on the Rankin Fire.

Video Courtesy: Casey Glines of the Rapid City Field Office


2:40 p.m.

The fire remains at an estimated 15 percent containment, now having scorched around 1,000 acres. 

With the growth of the fire, a Type II incident management team from Colorado takes control of the Rankin Fire tonight.


12:55 p.m.

The fire continues to burn in the northern part of Wind Cave National Park, east of Highway 87 and south of road NPS 5 - about 12 miles southeast of Custer.

Photo Courtesy: Great Plains Fire

The northern segment of NPS 5 is closed in addition to all backcountry hiking trails north of Wind Cave Canyon. The park visitor center remains open

According to the Great Plains Interagency Dispatch Center, the fire is burning toward the south in steep, rocky terrain fueled by grass and timber. A Type III incident management team is overseeing the work of approximately 85 firefighters and support staff.

“September and October are historically when we have the biggest fires in the park,” said Park Superintendent Vidal Dávila. “We encourage everyone to be extra cautious with their outdoor activities due to the hot and dry conditions we are experiencing.”


Sept. 12

The largest fire is the Rankin Fire near Wind Cave National Park in Buffalo Gap, which has burned approximately 760 acres.

Public Information Officer Tom Farrell said the fire was expected to expand to 500 acres Tuesday tonight due to burnout operations, but active fire behavior after gusty thunderstorms expanded the fire beyond that.

The increase in activity and acreage lead to request for a Type II management team. Type II is the second highest level, based on the severity of the fire, with Type I being the highest. The area recently had a Type II team work the Wanblee Fire.

The lightning-caused fire was first reported at 1:57 p.m. on Monday.

Eleven different agencies are working the fire. Assets include a single engine air tanker (SEAT), South Dakota National Guard Black Hawk helicopter, and a heavy air tanker.

With wind out of the south on Tuesday, crews focused on securing the north side of the fire.

The fire is currently 15 percent contained according the Rocky Mountain Coordination Center. No structures are threatened at this time.



Fire crews also battled flames off Victoria Lake Road near Pactola Reservoir in the Bald Hills Area.

The Sanders Fire burned 3.5 acres along the Centennial Trail on U.S. Forest Service land. Two engine crews initially had difficulty reaching the fire, due to terrain and downed timber in the area.

Investigators say the fire was human-caused. Containment numbers are not available at this time. The fire received heavy rain Tuesday afternoon.



Also Tuesday, just after midnight, a fire broke out in New Underwood at the corner of Sharpe Road and 223rd Street.

The fire progressed into nearly $16,000 worth of hay bales, which were completely lost. Fire crews were able to stop the forward progress and ultimately saved several hundred bales.

"It is just more ranching assets that have been lost,” said Jerome Harvey, Pennington County fire administrator. “This particular rancher here will definitely be affected during this winter's operation. But it is definitely tough on our ranchers."

The rancher affected by the fire told NewsCenter1 he was very appreciative of the fire crews and said other area ranchers are worse off than he is, despite losing approximately 350 bales of hay.



Authorities also fought a fire in Hermosa on Tuesday, spanning just over 150 acres.

A dry lightning strike started the East 40 Fire around 3 p.m., igniting a large patch of grass. Officials called it a two-alarm fire, asking for secondary aid.

The fire caused one injury to a firefighter, which was not life-threatening. But the grass fuels definitely posed a threat for firefighters.

"Grass is the most dangerous fuel bed to be in, and we saw that being here today is drought's stress to vegetation; we're seeing no precipitation,” said Harvey. “A few miles away, we did see precipitation.”

Officials say the fire is currently contained but is not controlled. The fire was monitored overnight by South Dakota State Wildland Fire crews.

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