Wildfires Force Closing of Mount Rushmore

High winds complicate crews' efforts in South Dakota
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 30, 2021 1:32 PM CDT
Wildfires in Black Hills Cause 400 Evacuations
Smoke from a wildfire in the Black Hills of South Dakota blankets an area on the outskirts of Rapid City.   (Siandhara Bonnet/Rapid City Journal via AP)

Three separate wildfires in the Black Hills of South Dakota have forced evacuations of more than 400 homes northwest of Rapid City and shut down Mount Rushmore, authorities said Monday. A fire that started near Schroeder Road in the Nemo area, about 15 miles northwest of Rapid City, had burned as much as 1½ square miles and was "still moving" on Monday afternoon, according to the Pennington County Sheriff's Office. Several outbuildings and at least one home have been destroyed, the AP reports. Gov. Kristi Noem, who traveled to Rapid City to oversee the response, said the Schroeder Road fire started on private property. "There have been losses, and that is tragic," she said. No injuries have been reported.

The Sheriff's Department warned earlier that the site was a "very active and dangerous scene." About 250 firefighters were battling the blaze on a windy afternoon when gusts have ranged from around 50mph to 72mph. Two additional blazes were burning southwest of Rapid City, near Keystone, with one covering an estimated 75 acres and the other 20 acres. That has caused Mount Rushmore National Memorial to close through at least Wednesday, as well as surrounding roads. South Dakota transportation officials shut down a 42-mile stretch of Interstate 90 from Kadoka to Murdo for three hours because of grass fires.

(Read more wildfires stories.)

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