The former wildland firefighter who owns the land just west of Rapid City where the Schroeder Fire began late last month says he believes the blaze was intentionally set.
The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office and the state Wildland Fire Division conducted a joint investigation of the fire and concluded the fire resulted from the burning of a debris pile.
Investigator Todd Hedglin says all evidence points to the fire being caused by the debris pile not being completely put out when strong winds rekindled and spread it.
The landowner, who had a legal permit for the burn, told investigators he was “100% sure the burn pile fire was completely out” when he left it unattended. He also said he’s experienced 2 other suspicious fires since buying the property in 2018.
The Schroeder Fire broke out the morning of March 29 and burned about 3.5 square miles or a little over 2,200 acres, destroying one home and several other structures while forcing the evacuation of over 400 people.