South Dakota firefighters cut firewood for Reservation residents

From the Hot Springs (South Dakota) Star:

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With snow falling all around, a sawyer with the Bear Mountain Hand Crew of the South Dakota Division of Wildland Fire Suppression cuts firewood from a large slash pile located on private property, owned by Rex and Millie Piper, along Argyle Road, north of Hot Springs. Photo by Brett Nachtigall/Hot Springs Star
With snow falling all around, a sawyer with the Bear Mountain Hand Crew of the South Dakota Division of Wildland Fire Suppression cuts firewood from a large slash pile located on private property, owned by Rex and Millie Piper, along Argyle Road, north of Hot Springs. Photo by Brett Nachtigall/Hot Springs Star

By Brett Nachtigall, Tuesday, December 29, 2009

HOT SPRINGS – Following Gov. Rounds’ emergency declaration last week due to a holiday winter storm, several personnel with the South Dakota Division of Wildland Fire Suppression were put into immediate action and worked for several days to cut and load firewood for the Pine Ridge Reservation, and other reservations around the state.

Les Madsen, Fire Management Officer in the Hot Springs field office, said he was made aware of the need for firewood last Tuesday night, Dec. 22, which prompted him to immediately begin organizing crews to begin work the following morning.

Since the primary need for firewood was in Pine Ridge, Madsen found a suitable location for the wood in the nearby Southern Hills on a ranch along Argyle Road, just north of Hot Springs, owned by Rex and Millie Piper.

Located on the property were two large slash piles of two-year-old dried wood that were scheduled to be burned later this winter. Madsen said he contacted the Pipers, who were more than willing to help the cause.

“It was a win-win for everyone,” Madsen said.

Nearly 30 state workers were on the scene last Wednesday, including 23 members from the Bear Mountain and Black Hat Hand Crews. Workers pulled apart the large slash piles and cut the dried wood into logs. They then piled the firewood in anticipation of National Guard crews coming later to load and haul the logs to reservations around the state.

As of yesterday (Monday, Dec. 28), crews had cut and loaded six 20-ton truck loads of firewood to the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian Reservations, according to Madsen.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+