Cold temperatures delay planned burn west of Rapid City

RAPID CITY, S.D. — A planned burn in the Black Hills National Forest that was scheduled for Monday was called off first thing this morning.

The U.S. Forest Service had planned to start burning 600 acres about five miles west of Rapid City off of Victoria Lake Road, in order to reduce hazardous fuel and improve wildlife habitat and overall forest health.

South Dakota State Fire Meteorologist Darren Clabo says today was too cool for the scheduled burn.

“Doing a successful burn is sort of a Goldilocks scenario,” said Clabo. “You don’t want things to be too dry or your burn will get out of hand. Or you don’t want things to be too wet or too cold, where you’re not going to meet your management objectives. This time of the year in January you really want those above average temperatures and obviously the lack of snowpack to really get your fire moving across the land. Our days are short this time of the year, we don’t have a lot of sunshine, so what we call the burn window, the time when we can successfully burn a prescribed fire is rather short. So you do want to see a little bit warmer, a little bit dryer than you would than if you were, say, running a prescribed burn in September or October.”

Clabo says there could be another opportunity Tuesday if the snow and cloud cover move out quickly enough. Otherwise, it’s looking like Thursday or Friday.

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