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One year after Rapid City fire, authorities urge caution with burning piles

Wildland Fire Division
State of South Dakota
Damage caused by the Schroeder Fire, which threatened Rapid City in March 2021.

One year after a wildfire threatened Rapid City, state officials are reminding landowners who recently burned slash piles to ensure they are completely extinguished.

South Dakota Wildland Fire Director Jay Esperance says smoldering material may continue to burn days after ignition. He says as the weather warms, the possibility of fires restarting in slash piles increases. A slash pile consists of vegetative debris from cutting or trimming trees. Rural landowners often burn the piles rather than hauling them away for disposal.

Landowners and burn permit holders can be held financially responsible if a slash pile starts a wildfire.

In March 2021, the Schroeder Fire burned more than 2,000 acres near Rapid City and 500 people were temporarily evacuated. An investigation found the blaze came from a residential burn pile.

The homeowner had a burn permit and thought the pile was extinguished.