Wind Cave Fire Contained

The Rankin Fire in Wind Cave National Park about 3 miles northwest of the park Visitor Center has been fully contained, although fire crews continue with mop-up and initial restoration.. 

     Park Chief of Interpretation Tom Farrell says the lightning-caused fire remained at 28 acres from Friday evening until crews completed a line around it and containment was declared Saturday evening.

     The initial response on Friday included ground crews and air support from single-engine air tankers, a large tanker, and a helicopter but when there were no flare-ups Friday night and with no structures threatened, the aircraft were cancelled and some ground crews released Saturday morning. 

     The fire burned grass and dead and downed trees, which Farrell says shows again the fire prevention benefits of prescribed burns.

    The Rankin Fire was in the area of a prescribed burn from several years ago that had removed the ladder fuels that allow wildfires to get up into trees and spread rapidly through crowning.

     The Elk Mountain Campground, all roads in the park, and most trails in Wind Cave remained open throughout the fire, although those in the north end were closed.

      Farrell says the popular Rankin Ridge trail has been reopened, but the Centennial, Sanctuary, and Highland Creek Trails remain closed to hiking and backcountry camping until further notice – adding that visitors may still see smoke from the interior of the fire area for several days unless it rains.