Fire departments, homeowners get ready for wildfire season
With springtime here, fire departments are beginning some spring cleaning their own. In Rapid City, the local fire department is taking some preventative steps right downtown with wildfire season near.
This week, the RCFD did a control burn of early-growth brush along Rapid Creek downtown, making a large cloud of smoke that covered the middle of the city.
Eric O’Connor is RCFD wildfire mitigation lieutenant. He said sometimes you have to start fires to prevent fires.
“Truly it’s an integral part of our land management," O'Connor said. "Within our wildfire mitigation net program, we do a lot of thinning of the ponderosa pine stands, removal of bugged trees and things like that in the timber. But its also really important for us to remember one of the biggest threats to the community is grassfires.”
O’Connor said these fires are becoming more of a year-round concern.
“We used to tell people that we would really focus on ‘fire season’, which is traditionally in the summer months, but truly we need to be prepared for wildfire throughout the year," O'Connor said. "Good examples of that are the Schroder fire and the Auburn fires of 2021 that both occurred during our shoulder season times – the spring and fall.”
O’Connor reminds homeowners a little cleaning can make a difference.
“Keeping pine needles out of your gutters, cleaning up the landscape, even just mowing that grass back away from your home 10-20 feet depending on the terrain," O'Connor said. "If you live in a wildland-urban interface area, where there is a potential of being evacuated by a fire get those items together and keep an itemized tally of those items you’re going to take.”
Fire department officials also recommend signing up with your local emergency management organization to receive real-time fire notifications.