RAPID CITY, S.D. (NewsNation Now) — Several wildfires caused hundreds of evacuations in South Dakota’s second-largest city, and another fire started inside Mount Rushmore National Memorial forced the closure of the park.
The largest fire is estimated at 1,900 acres near Rapid City, according to aerial support and several other fires were spotted.
Rapid City — located in the Black Hills National Forest — is about 23 miles from Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Another 90-acre fire developed within the park on Monday morning and was 0% contained, as of Tuesday morning, a public information officer confirmed to NewsNation.
“The fire is burning within the park; the structures considered threatened are a mix of park facilities and private residences,” said Travis Mason-Bushman, the PIO for the 244 Fire.
The monument remains closed to visitors on Tuesday.
The fire is caused by humans; exactly how is under investigation. NewsNation affiliate KELO-TV reported.
The Schroeder Road fire near Rapid City is also 0% contained. At least three houses have been lost, officials said, but they are still doing a damage assessment. The high winds are making the fire very unpredictable, according to officials.
“There has been losses and that is tragic for those families,” Gov. Kristi Noem said in a Monday afternoon briefing.
Local officials requested a federal incident command crew, which will arrive late Tuesday. They will likely come from the Southwest U.S., and since it’s not traditional fire season may have a slower response.
“I watched a neighbor’s house go up in flames,” said Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom, who was also evacuated from his house with his wife.
An estimated 500 people were evacuated from their homes as of Monday evening.
Officials say the air quality is poor from the smoke on the West side of Rapid City, NewsNation affiliate KELO-TV reported. The Rapid City Fire Department is asking residents to be careful if they go outside.
FEMA has authorized federal funds to help fight the fire.
The Rapid City fire was first reported around 10 a.m. MDT.
Rapid City has a population of more than 75,000 residents.