Firefighters make progress containing South Dakota fires


Smoke from a wildfire in the Black Hills of South Dakota blankets an area on the outskirts of Rapid City, S.D., where police set up a roadblock on Monday, March 29, 2021. There were at least three wildfires west that were burning west of Rapid City on a day when wind gusts ranged from 50 to 72 mph. The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office said at least 400 homes had been evacuated and about 250 firefighters were battling the blaze that started near the town of Nemo. (Siandhara Bonnet/Rapid City Journal via AP)

NEMO, S.D. (NewsNation Now) — Firefighters continued to make progress Wednesday on containing wildfires in the Black Hills of South Dakota that earlier forced the evacuation of more than 400 homes.

The fight against the Schroeder Fire is taking place on the ground and from above.

Fire crews are using helicopters to carry water to the hot spots burning in the Black Hills.

Fire crews have increased containment of the largest fire near Schroeder Road in the Nemo area to 47%, the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post Wednesday. The Schroeder Road fire has burned nearly 3.4 square miles.

Law enforcement officers opened some neighborhoods that had been evacuated, but were only admitting people who live there. Residents were asked to remain on their property and not to call 911 unless there is imminent danger from fire flare-ups.

The Schroeder Road fire has crossed into two neighborhoods near Rapid City, according to the sheriff’s office. At least one home has been destroyed, as well as several other structures. No injuries have been reported.

Two smaller blazes were burning southwest of Rapid City, including one inside the grounds of Mount Rushmore National Memorial, which remained closed Wednesday.

The fire continued to burn in steep, rough country inaccessible by roads, officials said. Heavy air tankers and helicopters supported ground firefighters as they protected homes and worked to contain the fire.

The wind remained a factor in firefighting efforts, but was not as strong as it was on Monday and Tuesday, fire officials said.

NewsNation affiliate KELO and The Associated Press contributed to this report

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