A fire fueled by high winds charred approximately 305 acres of timber and grass on the Rosebud Reservation.
The fire, which began late in the day on June 14, remains under investigation. Local firefighters initially had the blaze under control that same evening. However, the fire flared up on Friday morning in an area marked by deep canyons filled with Ponderosa Pine trees.
The fire, which started about 1/4 mile west of Chases the Woman Dam, was approximately 80% contained as of Sunday morning, according to Bureau of Indian Affairs Fire Officer Dana Cook. Two hand crews from Rosebud were joined by eight other crews from the surrounding area to work non-stop in digging a line around the center of the blaze.
The South Dakota National Guard provided crucial assistance in fighting the blaze by providing air support. Officials credit the aircraft for helping ground crews halt the progress of the fast moving fire. A Black Hawk helicopter spent several hours carrying water from Chases the Woman Dam in a 600 gallon bucket to dump on the blaze.
During the height of the fire, officials took safety precautions by closing BIA Road 5 to local travel. Several residents of the Grass Mountain Community were also asked to evacuate their homes on Friday. The request was made as a precaution because the fire jumped established lines due to the high winds. Communities on the west side of the Rosebud Indian Reservation saw large quantities of smoke blowing through from the fire on Friday.
The RST Emergency Preparedness Program was activated to assist with the needs of fire fighters. Command centers were established at the Rosebud Fire Hall and Ghost Hawk Park to provide support services to firefighters. The entire burn area will be monitored for at least a week.
For more information please contact Dana Cook at the Rosebud BIA Fire Department, he can be reached by calling (605) 747-2700.