Local firefighters extinguish grassfire near Hermosa, see surge in slash/burn pile calls

Local firefighters responded to a grassland fire near Hermosa that became unruly after winds surged in the area. Fire officials say that this isn't the best time to conduct slash/burn piles or controlled burns.

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Around noon on Monday, fire fighters received a call of a controlled burn by a landowner near Hermosa.

Once the wind picked up, the burn got out of control, scorching half an acre.

The incident comes after fire agencies around the Black Hills responded to several fires over the weekend that started in similar fashion.

But, fire officials have one message: with increased temperatures and little to no snow coming for the foreseeable future, this is not the best time to burn.

“You know, right now you should still be going out and checking your burn piles that you did over the winter,” said Garrett Dixon, the Assistant Fire Chief of the Battle Creek Fire Department. “You shouldn’t be burning anymore slash piles as of now, you know, a good thing to do is you know, take some water with you. If it’s a skid unit that you have in the back of a pickup, a garden hose if it can reach and checking those piles, tearing em’ out and puttin’ some water on them.”

Dixon also said that those looking to use burn/slash piles need to keep an eye on them until they are completely out.

The optimal time to set the piles ablaze or execute a controlled burn is when you have multiple inches of snow on the ground. However, fire officials say even though some snow may be on the ground, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good time to burn.

“Even if there is snow on the ground, the grass on top is still dry, the trees are still dry,” said Shannon Rittberger, a Firefighter with the Fairburn Volunteer Fire Department. “The most important thing is the moisture content in the trees and grass and we don’t have that anywhere right now.”

Fire officials also land owners who choose to burn during dry conditions face potential civil and criminal penalties.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News