South Dakota: Draw Fire

You know that moment when you open your truck door and the wind grabs it and almost rips it off the vehicle? I experienced that moment late this afternoon when I arrived at a new fire in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the Draw Fire.

It was reported at 4:55 p.m. today by the Fire Management Officer of Wind Cave National Park, Eric Allen. He was on the south side of the park and told the dispatcher he saw a light grey smoke on the north side of the park.

Draw Fire
Draw Fire. Photo by Jared Hohn for the U.S. Forest Service.

If the fire that started Saturday three miles farther north had not been named the Cold Fire (after Cold Springs School) this new fire SHOULD have earned that name. Thanks to a cold front, it was 38 degrees late this afternoon, the wind chill was 28, there was a steady 25 mph wind with stronger gusts, and it was spitting rain. I was glad I was only visiting and could leave as soon as my camera trigger finger became numb.

Since it was cold, the humidity was high, and there were a few drops of precipitation in the air, even WITH the very strong wind the fire did not spread as quickly as it would have in the morning before the cold front came in, or in the previous three days when it was drier.

It burned about 10 to 20 acres.

The fire may not have been reported right away because the 1,900-acre Cold Fire was just up the road. If Eric had not seen the smoke it might have gotten twice as large before anyone else called it in.

map draw cold fires
Map of the Draw and Cold Fires.

When I left at about 6:45 p.m. the Incident Commander said there was a dozer line around 98 percent of the fire.