Even with a snowier than average winter, drought conditions still persist throughout the area.
Rapid City, the Black Hills, and a large portion of the South Dakota plains are categorized under Moderate Drought. This is improvement over the latter part of last year, as much of the area was under extreme drought, but there are still dry fuels to spark a fire.
State Fire Meteorologist Darren Clabo says, "Nearly all of western South Dakota is under at least abnormally dry conditions. There are areas that are still seeing that moderate drought, especially across the Black Hills and surrounding foothills. This time of the year, it's not unheard of to be this warm, granted today, we were getting close to those record high conditions. February and March, it's just extremely variable in western South Dakota. We get these nice warm days followed by cool days with snow, and I think we're expecting some of that later this week."
With the absence of lightning from storms this time of year, fires that get going are almost always human caused.