Bear Butte Summit Trail to reopen after wildfire

Posted: Updated:

The latest on a wildland fire in Bear Butte State Park.


Jan. 31

The Bear Butte Summit Trail will reopen Friday. Park officials ask that all visitors be cautious and stay on the designated trail, as the effects of the fire are still being assessed.

All other trails, campgrounds and day use areas within the park remain open as normal.

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Jan. 30

Although the fire is contained, an updated estimate of the size has been released. The Bear Butte fire now sits at 502 acres.

Jan. 29

According to Great Plains Fire Information, the cause of the Bear Butte fire was from an escaped debris burn pile on private property.

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Jan. 28

The fire was fully contained Sunday around 2 a.m. after growing to an estimated 150 acres. 

No structures were lost and no injuries reported. The bison in Bear Butte State Park were not affected, according to South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.

The park, east of Highway 79, will remain closed until Tuesday. The west side of the park, with the horse camp and campground, remains open. The Bear Butte hiking trail will be closed until parks officials can assess fire damage.

Crews will continue mopping up the fire for at least the next few days.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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Jan. 27, 7 p.m.

Great Plains Fire Information has updated the size of the fire to about 100 acres, with approximately 30 percent containment. 

According to Ray Bubb, the South Dakota Wildland Fire incident commander, the mountain's steep incline has posed a challenge for fire crews. 

"This is extremely steep terrain on the Butte, and basically it’s steep enough that you’ll slip and tumble down the hill," he said. "We really can't put people up in the high areas." 

Responding agencies include: fire departments from Sturgis, Vale, Fort Meade, Black Hawk, Box Elder, Battle Creek, North Haines, New Underwood, Quinn, Rockerville, Rapid Valley, Piedmont, Whispering Pines, Whitewood, Pennington County Fire, State Wildland Fire, Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Forest Service.  

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3:55 p.m.

According to Great Plains Fire Information, the latest size estimate is 35-40 acres, and it's 30 percent contained.

There are no mandatory evacuations at this time, but local residents are on pre-evacuation notice. That means residents need to be ready to leave at a moment's notice.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Below are pictures from the Sturgis Volunteer Fire Department.

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2:40 p.m.

According to the Sturgis Volunteer Fire Department, the Bear Butte fire started on the north side and is currently burning on the east side. They say firefighters are attacking from the south.

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2:30 p.m.

The Pennington County Fire Service, the Sturgis Volunteer Fire Department, and the South Dakota Division of Wildland Fire are on scene. More agencies are joining.

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1:10 p.m.

The fire appears to be climbing Bear Butte.

According to Great Plains Interagency Fire Dispatch, the fire is now at 15 acres. Again, that number is most likely conservative.


Photo Courtesy: Pennington County Fire Service


Photo Courtesy: Dave Farber

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12:55 p.m.

There is a large wildland fire on the northwest side of Bear Butte near Highway 79. Authorities say the windblown fire is rapidly growing.

The fire was reported around 11:30 a.m. at 10 acres, but that number is expected to grow.

Pennington County fire resources are assisting Meade County.


Photo Courtesy: Pierrette Lyons


Photo Courtesy: Pierrette Lyons


Photo Courtesy: Lee Stroschine with Sturgis Ambulance


Photo Courtesy: Kim Matz

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