Final size of Cottonwood Fire: 41,360 acres

Above: Final official map of the Cottonwood Fire, produced by the Incident Management Team.

The Cottonwood Fire that started 12 miles east of Wall, South Dakota has been contained. After GPS mapping the 16-mile long fire the incident management team determined it had burned 41,360 acres. Jim Strain, the South Dakota Chief Fire Management Officer, said most of those acres were burned during the first eight hours. And according to Darren Clabo, the South Dakota State Fire Meteorologist, it is the fifth largest on record in the state.

Tuesday night the local Type 3 Incident Management Team was released and turned the fire over to the Wall, Interior, Philip, and Kadoka Fire Departments, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, and Buffalo Gap National Grassland.

Livestock losses reported to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office stand at 137 as no additional losses were reported to the team.

Cottonwood Fire map
The map shows the APPROXIMATE location of the Cottonwood Fire, based on a satellite image from October 18, 2016. The thin green lines are county borders, and the thicker green line at lower-left is Badlands National Park. We made this before the Incident Management Team produced their final more accurate map.

Mr. Clabo sent the tweet below when the estimated size of the fire was 31,000 acres.

Mr. Clablo also looked at the data recorded at the weather station in Badlands National Park south of Wall.

Cottonwood Fire burns tens of thousands of acres east of Wall, South Dakota

(UPDATED at 1:51 p.m. MDT October 18, 2016)

map cottonwood fire
Preliminary map of the perimeter of the Cottonwood Fire, October 17, 2016. The red line was determined with the use of a GPS receiver. The rest of the perimeter is approximate.

Rain in the late afternoon and early evening on Monday helped firefighters working on the Cottonwood Fire 12 miles east of Wall, South Dakota.

Crews were able to assess damaged and destroyed structures inside the perimeter of the fire and it was determined that no primary residences were destroyed. An exact number of cabins, outbuildings and other structures that burned will  be determined on Tuesday.

The incident management team anticipates 100 percent containment by the end of the operational period today at 6:00 pm MDT.


(UPDATED at 6 p.m. MDT October 17, 2016)

The incident management team on the Cottonwood Fire 12 miles southeast of Wall, South Dakota at 4 p.m. today estimated that about 31,000 acres have burned, with the benefit of better mapping and the ability to evaluate the fire perimeter in the daylight. The team still intends to map the perimeter with a GPS receiver to finalize the data.

At about 6:10 p.m. MDT on Monday it was raining on at least part of the fire.

In addition to the 137 head of cattle that have been reported killed, structures were destroyed but the number of them has not been released.

There are no road closures in effect at this time and Interstate 90 currently has no restrictions in the fire area. Smoke should no longer pose a risk to motorists. The fire area will be clearly visible to travelers on I-90.

There are currently nearly 100 personnel working on the fire. At its peak, close to 300 firefighters were fighting the fire.


(UPDATED at 9:20 p.m. MDT October 16, 2016)

The name of the fire that started about 12 miles southeast of Wall, South Dakota has been changed from “131” to “Cottonwood”.

The fire is currently being managed by the Pennington County Type 3 Incident Management Team (PCIMT3) and is under Unified Command with representatives of Buffalo Gap National Grassland, Wall Fire Department, Jackson County, and Pennington County.

At 6 p.m. the incident management team estimated the fire had burned between 5,000 and 6,000 acres of private and federal land based on information from personnel in an aircraft. More accurate size information is expected on Monday and may result in a change, they said.

map cottonwood fire
This map produced by the Incident Management Team shows the approximate area of the Cottonwood Fire between Interstate 90 and Highway 14 south of Cottonwood Monday morning. They are currently working on a more accurate map made with the help of a GPS receiver.

Fire authorities reported that structures have burned, but did not provide any details on the number or if they were residences or other buildings.

All roads in the fire area were open at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday.

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