Above: The Kara Creek Fire, June 25, 2016. Inciweb photo.
(UPDATED at 11:40 a.m. MDT June 26, 2016)
Two large fires are keeping firefighters busy in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming.
The Kara Creek Fire that burned at least 10,000 acres 13 miles west of Sundance, Wyoming in its first 24 hours after starting from a lightning strike Friday evening continued to spread on Saturday. As of Sunday morning it has been mapped at 13,073 acres. The fire was most active on the south side Saturday where it spread to within a mile of Interstate 90. For a while Saturday evening a north wind pushed smoke onto the highway reducing visibility to the point that it was closed in both directions. Later the wind shifted to come out of the south and it reopened.
Firefighters are making progress on the fire using 113 firefighters, dozers, graders, air tankers and helicopters.
The Crow Peak Fire, 33 miles east of the Kara Creek Fire, has burned about 400 acres 5 miles southwest of Spearfish, South Dakota in the Black Hills National Forest. It is at the top of Crow Peak, “aggressively backing and flanking downhill with short range spotting”, according to fire officials.
Optional and pre-evacuation notifications have been made along Crow Peak Bench Road. Pre-evacuation notices have been made along Crow Creek Road.
About 50 personnel are assigned to the fire along with heavy air tankers, single engine air tankers, and Type 1 and Type 2 helicopters. More resources are en route, including a Type 2 Incident Management Team with Incident Commander Shane Greer which will assume command at 6 a.m. on Monday.
Great Plains dispatch office reported that firefighters were pulled off the fire Friday night due to the passage of a cold front bringing strong winds. The fire was caused by lightning and was reported Friday afternoon.
The weather forecasts for both of these fires on Sunday are similar, predicting moderate conditions — temperatures in the low 80s, relative humidity around 20 percent, and west winds shifting to come out of the north at about 5 to 8 mph.
The below photo is the Crow Peak Fire.
— William Walker (@wwalker198035) June 26, 2016
(Originally published at 5:53 MDT June 25, 2016)
The Kara Creek Fire has burned 12,000 acres less than 24 hours after it started according to an estimate from the incident management team working on the fire. It started following a lightning bust and was reported at 6:15 p.m. MDT June 24. The fire was extremely active Friday evening. Based on data from a heat-sensing satellite at 12:49 p.m. on Saturday, at that time it was 13 miles west of Sundance, Wyoming, 2 miles east of Keystone Reservoir, and 2 miles north of Interstate 90.
The incident commander that was assigned to the Douglas Fire just seven miles away, Dick Terry, is now in charge of the Kara Creek Fire along with his Type 3 Incident Management Team from the previous fire. A Type 4 IMT is now in charge of the Douglas Fire.
The fire grew quickly due to strong winds associated with the passing of a storm Friday evening and then again with the passage of a cold front Friday night. It has been confirmed that one home was destroyed during the early stages of the fire; over a dozen smaller outbuildings have also burned.
Considering it is a new fire, and in eastern Wyoming, the firefighters have a surprising number of resources available, including two Chinook helicopters, one smaller helicopter, a heavy air tanker, four single engine air tankers, multiple fire engines, the Entiat Hotshots, and two other hand crews.
Evacuation orders are in effect for the following areas: the area east of Keyhole Reservoir to include Pine Ridge Road, Old Sundance Road to I-90, H-Kay Road, Inyan Kara Creek Road, Windmill Lane, Arrowhead Drive, Tom Cat Lane, Tomcat Creek Road, and Nefsy Road. All of these roads are closed to non-emergency traffic.
A public meeting for the Kara Creek Fire will be held Sunday, June 26 at 4 p.m. on the lawn of the Crook County Courthouse at 309 Cleveland Street in Sundance.
The wind on Saturday may have presented a problem for firefighters. The Devils Tower weather station nine miles to the north recorded sustained winds at 6 to 8 mph but had gusts at 20 to 30 mph. The relative humidity was in the low teens. The weather on Sunday should be more favorable, with 84 degrees, winds out of the south shifting to come out of the north at 2 to 7 mph, and a relative humidity of 18 percent.
— Chip Redmond (@wx_chip) June 25, 2016