Above: Dry Creek Fire, November 22, 2017. Photo by Josephine Weekley, Fairburn VFD.
(Originally published at 1:33 p.m. MST November 24, 2017)
A wildfire east of the Black Hills of South Dakota burned 291 acres between Hermosa and Fairburn November 22. It occurred on a day when the weather station at Rapid City Regional Airport recorded wind gusts up to 42 mph and a minimum relative humidity of 29 percent. The suspected cause, Jim Strain, Assistant Chief at the Fairburn Fire Department said, was railroad maintenance that included welding and grinding on the tracks.
The fast moving fire threatened structures on several ranches but was knocked down by 4 p.m. the same day. It was declared controlled Friday, November 24.
Railroads start many wildfires in the United States. The most common causes are inadequately maintained spark arrestors, faulty brakes, and like in this case, grinding and welding. Too often the companies are not held accountable or required to pay for the costs of suppressing the fires.