The Schroeder wildfire in Black Hills, South Dakota began on March 29th, 2021, and rapidly burned through 2,195 acres west of Rapid City. This fire along with two others in the area forced over 400 families out of their homes and necessitated an emergency shut down of the Mount Rushmore National Monument. The fire near Mount Rushmore was dangerously close to 15 structures but Great Plains Fire Public Information Officers confirm that no facilities have been destroyed.
Nevertheless, the wildfires gave residents and authorities much cause for concern as they raged through the region, fuelled by an unrelenting dry wind. 60 firefighters responded immediately, and the South Dakota National Guard Black Hawk helicopter took to dumping water over the flames. However, by Monday, multiple fires mushroomed over the region carried by the wind. Officials called for additional assistance from firefighters around the region and 250 more responded.
On Monday, a cold front with a chance of rain leaned assistance to the fire crews fighting the Black Hills wildfires. As of writing this, the fire is 100 percent contained and Mount Rushmore has been opened to the public. The region is expecting some rainfall which will also cool any hotspots in the affected areas.
However, firefighters will still patrol fire lines and begin work to repair any ground damage. While the cause of the fire is still not confirmed, many believe it was caused by humans, low humidity, high winds, and the drought conditions in the region. There is still a red flag warning in the region and a State of Emergency Order in effect through to June 1. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said in a statement that fires this early in the year were unusual and difficult to manage. “Nationwide, some of the resources that normally would be available to us during fire-fighting season just weren’t set up yet because it’s so early in the year,” she said during a press conference on March 30th. Families across Rapid City are slowly moving back into their homes even as several roads remain closed.