UPDATE at 6:55 p.m. MT, March 29, 2012
Firefighters have a fireline around the entire fire, but portions of it are indirect. That is, the line is some distance from the fire, so firefighters have to burn out or backfire between the line and the fire in order to eliminate the fuel (or vegetation) in those areas. Until that is complete the firelines will not be secure. The two photos below that were taken on Wednesday showing firefighter Brice Stanton are examples, but on a small scale, of burning out unburned vegetation between the fireline and the fire.
More accurate mapping has resulted in a smaller reported size, which is now 500 acres, all but 30 of which are on U.S. Forest Service land, the rest being private. They are calling it 15% contained.
On Friday the weather will challenge firefighters and test the indirect firelines. The Weather Service is predicting 10 to 25 mph winds with gusts up to 35, and a relative humidity of 15%.
The USFS has produced a map showing the fire’s location.
UPDATE at 10:16 a.m. MT, March 29, 2012
At 10 p.m. last night the fire spotted across a dozer line and a road, and this morning is reported to be 515 acres and 15% contained. It is three miles southeast of Cicero Peak, and eight miles southeast of Custer, SD. The Incident Commander is Todd Hoover, from the Black Hills National Forest.
There are currently 2 Heavy Air Tankers, 1 Type 1 Heavy Helicopter (KMAX) and a lead plane stationed at the Rapid City Air Tanker Base.
We will add more information as it develops today.
(Original article at 6:30 p.m. March 28, 2012.)
Monday’s lightning is suspected of starting a fire that showed up today
between 1 and 2 p.m. at 11:38 a.m. north of Wind Cave National Park on the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota. At the last report it had burned about 300 acres.
All photos were taken by Bill Gabbert on March 28, 2012 between 2:56 p.m. and 5:40 p.m.
During the early stages of the fire the Incident Commander was able to use a South Dakota National Guard Blackhawk helicopter and a Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) on the fire. Then the SEAT got taken away and used on a new fire about two miles south of Mt. Rushmore. Initially there were no large air tankers available, but several hours into the fire Dispatch told the IC that they had rounded up two large air tankers, apparently coming from a considerable distance away, and they would be landing empty at Rapid City Airport around 6 p.m. Two Type 1 helicopters were also ordered from some very distant locale. Crews were coming from Montana and other states. [UPDATE: the two large air tankers were “stolen” from the Lower North Fork fire in Colorado, leaving them with no air tankers.. At 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday that fire was 4,140 acres and only 15% contained.]
Welcome to the 2012 wildfire season. It’s still March and there are not enough aerial and hand crew resources where they are needed.