CUSTER, S.D. – The Black Elk Fire in the Black Elk Wilderness near Black Elk Peak in the central Black Hills is now 100% contained at less than 8-acres despite burning for 5 days.
Black Hills National Forest Hell Canyon District Ranger Tracy Anderson says the fire will likely continue smoking until significant rainfall arrives and that firefighters will continue to monitor the burn area.
Anderson says the fire was started by lightning Monday afternoon but wasn’t reported until Wednesday afternoon. It burned in steep and remote terrain that had extension dead and fallen timber caused by the Pine Mountain Beetle outbreak of the past decade.
Anderson says the quick response of firefighters, the help of partners who assisted with the fire, and the cooperation of the public allowed the damage to be held to a minimum.
Most of the 70 firefighters were released late Friday afternoon, but a 20-person hand crew, a National Guard Blackhawk Helicopter and a Rapid Extraction Module will continue to work throughout the weekend.
The Forest Service issue an emergency closure order for the Black Elk Wilderness has been lifted, but the public is asked not to go into the burned area as hazards still remain. Temporary flight restriction over the fire area were lifted Friday night.