Winds Blowing Down Power Lines, Sparking Fires
High winds are blowing down power lines and fanning wildfires around the Black Hills area.
Crews have responded to seven reported fires since midnight.
The wind has also caused power outages and loss of cell phone service in parts of the Black Hills.
The National Weather Service in Rapid City recorded a wind gust of 78 miles per hour. That’s above hurricane force.
Wildfire officials are asking the public to be very careful with machinery and anything that could cause sparks. Beth Hermanson is a state fire information officer.
“The fuels are so dry and if there is any spark whatsoever anywhere and in those dry fuels those grasses right now, with this wind it’s going to move very quickly,” says Hermanson.
Hermanson says crews are reporting that downed power lines are sparking fires. But no official cause for any fires has been determined as of yet.
Black Hills Power says crews are actively responding to restore electricity. The public is being reminded to stay clear of downed power lines, poles or other equipment. Company officials say anyone who finds a downed line should first, call 911, and then contact Black Hills Power at 800-742-8948.
The Rapid City Police say traffic lights were out earlier this morning and that at least one semi-truck blew over on I-90. Other types of wind damage are also being reported around the area.
The National Weather Service says the winds will continue into late afternoon then begin to die off.