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Quick Start to South Dakota’s 2015 Fire Season





For Immediate Release: December 31, 2015

Media Contact: Jeni Lawver, 605.381.7232




Quick Start to South Dakota’s 2015 Fire Season



RAPID CITY, S.D. — Extremely dry conditions got South Dakota’s Wildland Fire season started early in 2015, but it slowed as wetter conditions persevered. For the second year in a row, the largest amount of fire activity was not in the Black Hills.


The South Dakota Department of Agriculture Wildland Fire Division says the state’s largest fire for the 2015 fire season was the 13,949 acre Sheep Draw fire in Harding County in late March.  The second largest fire was the escaped Cold Brook prescribed fire in Wind Cave National Park, which involved 5,400 acres. The third largest fire was the 5,100 acre fire near Gettysburg in April. The largest forest fire in the Black Hills was the 58 acre North Pole fire in March, which was started by slash pile debris burning.


Also for the second year in row, most of the mid-size, 500 to 1,000 acre fires were in Central South Dakota. The majority were started by harvesting on hot, dry days.


The Black Hills stayed relatively wet and quiet for the second year in a row, allowing federal, state and local fire fighters across the state assist the western states with equipment and personnel on large fires.


South Dakota Wildland Fire firefighters assisted the Province of Saskatchewan in July with engine crew staffing during the record breaking fire season in Canada. Wildland Fire and volunteer firefighters sent incident management team personnel, hand crews, engine crews and aircraft to support fires activity in California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Wyoming, Alaska, Nebraska, Idaho and Montana. All returned without serious incident or injury. The State of South Dakota Single Engine Air Tanker flew on three fires in South Dakota and one fire in Nebraska.


Additionally, Wildland Fire engine crews were called on to provide a significant amount of support to various poultry operations during the spring Avian Influenza outbreak in the eastern part of the state.


Follow South Dakota Wildland Fire on Twitter @SDWildlandFire and on Facebook by searching SD Wildland Fire.


Agriculture is a major contributor to South Dakota’s economy, generating $25.6 billion in annual economic activity and employing over 115,000 South Dakotans. The South Dakota Department of Agriculture's mission is to promote, protect, preserve and improve this industry for today and tomorrow. Visit us online at http://sdda.sd.gov or find us on Facebook and Twitter.