The Schroeder Fire has so far burned more than 1,900 acres

By Rachel DeSantis
March 30, 2021 10:50 AM
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south dakota fire
Schroeder Fire
| Credit: Johnson Siding Volunteer Fire Department/Facebook

A wildfire tearing through South Dakota has prompted the evacuations of hundreds of people and the closure of Mt. Rushmore, authorities said.

The Schroeder Fire broke out on Monday morning just west of Rapid City, and burned through 1,900 acres by nightfall, incident commander Rob Powell told the Rapid City Journal.

At least two homes were destroyed, as were several outbuildings, in the blaze, which Powell said was driven by wind gusts. According to the Johnson Siding Volunteer Fire Department, 81 mph winds were recorded just four miles south of Rapid City on Monday morning.

Between 400 and 500 homes were evacuated in the area, according to Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom, and officials said that the evacuation orders would continue into the night, as the fire was still at zero percent containment.

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The National Park Service announced at 2 p.m. local time that Mount Rushmore National Memorial was closed due to the blaze.

A Facebook page arranged by officials to share updates on the Schroeder Fire said Tuesday morning that it was active overnight in the Cleghorn Canyon and Nameless Cave areas, and that firefighters put structure protection in place in those areas.

Approximately 250 firefighters were on the scene battling the blaze, the Journal reported.

south dakota fire
Credit: Johnson Siding Volunteer Fire Department/Facebook

Both Gov. Kristi Noem and Rep. Dusty Johnson headed to Rapid City to assess the damage, and Johnson said on Twitter that FEMA had approved the state's emergency request for help fighting the fire.

"South Dakotans, stay vigilant and keep up with alerts in case your area needs to evacuate while our first responders fight to get this fire under control," he wrote.

The Johnson Siding Volunteer Fire Department said no civilian injuries were reported, and the cause of the blaze remains under investigation.