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A wildfire threatens the Black Hills instead of snow this month... how?

Flames erupted near Highway 44 in Johnson Siding Monday, although the fire is 100% contained now, this one might not be the only one this week.
Flames erupted near Highway 44 in Johnson Siding Monday, although the fire is 100% contained...
Flames erupted near Highway 44 in Johnson Siding Monday, although the fire is 100% contained now, this one might not be the only one this week.(Gillian Trudeau)
Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 11:44 AM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Smoke billowed West of Rapid City.

“Wildland fire is not just a season, it can be year-round here in Western South Dakota,” said Jerome Harvey, fire administrator for Pennington County.

A fire sparked behind the Big Bend Presbyterian Church near Johnson Siding, threatening multiple buildings and power lines.

The flames spread more than 5 acres with the help of the current weather.

KEVN and KOTA’s meteorologist Jacob Montesano says there are three factors that go into creating a wildland fire. Dryness and wind are two of the most important.

“Temperature I wouldn’t say is not important but it’s definitely the least important of the three so fires are still common during the winter,” said Jacob Montesano, meteorologist.

Montesano says the winds tend to be stronger in the winter months, which paired with dry grass, creates a breeding ground for sparks.

“If you spend any time living here in Western South Dakota, you need to expect these kinds of dry cycles to appear in even the dead of winter like this,” said Harvey.

Although the cause of the Log Porch fire near Johnson Siding is still unknown, it is determined to be human-caused. So, people are advised to be cautious they don’t start the next one.

“You just have to be careful with any type of source of ignition whether you’re here in the hills or you’re out on the prairie enjoying the grasslands, just any type of ignition source you need to be very very careful with it,” said Harvey.

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