400 homes evacuated, Rushmore closed amid South Dakota fires

Black_Hills_Wildfires_20459 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.
Black_Hills_Wildfires_33712 Firefighters battling wildfires in the Black Hills of South Dakota create a trench with axes on a hillside west of Rapid City on Monday, March 29, 2021. The blaze that started on property near the town of Nemo had burned at least 11/2 square miles and led to the evacuation of 400 homes as of Monday afternoon. Officials say two homes and numerous outbuildings were destroyed on a day when wind gusts reached 72 mph.

NEMO, S.D. (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 (24 kilometers) northwest of Rapid City, had burned as much as 1 1/2 square miles (4 square kilometers) 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, officials said.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who traveled to Rapid City to oversee the response, said the Schroeder Road fire started on private property. She said “there have been losses and that is tragic.” No injuries have been reported.

The Sheriff’s Department warned earlier that it was a “very active and dangerous scene.” About 250 firefighters were battling the blaze on a windy afternoon when gusts have ranged from around 50 mph to 72 mph, the Rapid City Journal reported.

Two additional blazes were burning southwest of Rapid City, near Keystone, with one covering an estimated 75 acres (30.35 hectares) and the other 20 acres (8.09 hectares). 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 (68-kilometer) stretch Interstate 90 from Kadoka to Murdo for three hours due to grass fires.

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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