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Prescribed Burn Helps Cold Fire Crews

Michael Engelhart
Black Hills National Forest

It’s been over a month since the Cold Fire cut through the Southern Black Hills. It burned almost two-thousand acres of land, but officials say it could have been worse. They say a previous prescribed burn in the area helped slow the progress of the wildfire.

In 2014, officials ran a prescribed burn on forest land near Pringle. Almost two years later, a wildfire closed in on the treated area.

Matt Spring of the Hell Canyon Ranger District says that prescribed burn helped control the Cold Fire that started April 2.  

“If were weren’t be able to get that line secured that night, that first night of the ignition of the  fire I wholeheartedly believe the fire would have been a lot larger,” says Spring.

Spring, who was the incident commander for the Cold Fire, says the Black Hills needs wildfires to keep the environment in balance.

“All fires not bad, that’s why we do prescribed burns, trying to keep it within parameters in certain times of the year to introduce fire. The Black Hills is a very fire dependent eco-system,” says Spring.

While wildfires can benefit forest ecosystems, many also leave a path of destruction. Spring says one home threatened by this fire was saved… because the landowner had a defensible space around his property.  

“The Cold Fire came right at his place, we were able to provide structure protection because he had defensible space around his home, and that occurred on more than one structure in the Cold Fire and that was a huge contributor on why we did not lose any structures on that fire,” says Spring.

Fire officials say that planting less shrubs and bushes close to your home and spacing out tree growth around your property can help prevent wildfires from coming directly to your doorstep.