A wildfire near Rapid City burned several structures Monday afternoon and forced an estimated 500 people to evacuate, but officials anticipate they averted a larger disaster.
The Schroeder Fire began Monday morning on private property about 4 miles west of Rapid City, near Schroeder Road. Authorities say there was no lightning in the area, which suggests the fire may be human-caused. Strong winds pushed the fire across an estimated 800 acres of private, state and federal land by Monday afternoon.
Incident Commander Rob Powell said there were no injuries or deaths as of Monday afternoon. The fire damaged several outbuildings and possibly two homes.
Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom said he and his wife were evacuated.
“I watched a neighbor's house go up in flames, so it touches all of us, and I'm just thankful for all the resources that are here,” Thom said.
About 250 firefighters from local, state and federal agencies responded. Incident Commander Rob Powell said the fire hit some rugged terrain.
“It’s a tough area to get into, but we’re doing our best to try to get out ahead of it and at least protect the homes and outbuildings that are in front of the fire,” Powell said.
Officials including Gov. Kristi Noem – who traveled to Rapid City to watch the response – said strong overnight winds would die down and make the firefighting easier.
“It appears that the areas that we thought were threatened the most that were evacuated may no longer be necessary and they could be back in their homes soon,” Noem said.
High winds across the state fanned several other fires Monday, including a forest fire 1.5 miles southwest of Keystone that was at least 75 acres, and a grassland fire near Murdo.
-Contact reporter Seth Tupper by email.