NEMO, SD – Three separate wildfires in South Dakota’s Black Hills forced the evacuation of more than 400 homes northwest of Rapid City and extinguished Mount Rushmore, authorities said.
A fire that started near Schroeder Road in the Nemo area, about 15 miles northwest of Rapid City, had burned down to 1 1/2 square miles and was “still on the move” Monday afternoon, according to the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office. Several outbuildings and at least one house were destroyed, officials said.
South Dakota Governor 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 it is tragic”. No injuries were reported.
The sheriff’s department earlier warned that this was a “very active and dangerous scene.” About 250 firefighters were battling the blaze on a blustery afternoon when the gusts ranged from about 50 mph to 72 mph, the Rapid City Journal reported.
Two more fires were burning southwest of Rapid City near Keystone, one covering about 75 acres (30.35 hectares) and the other 20 acres. This resulted in the closure of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial at least on Wednesday, as well as the surrounding roads.
South Dakota transportation officials closed a 42-mile stretch of Interstate 90 from Kadoka to Murdo for three hours due to grass fires.