Update: Wind Cave Wildfire Over 90% Contained

The freshly scorched terrain of Wind Cave National Park.

The freshly scorched terrain of Wind Cave National Park. Photo by Brian Scott

The Cold Brook Fire is now over 90% contained after burning 6,420 acres (10 square miles) at South Dakota’s Wind Cave National Park.

According to the latest, and predicted to be final updates, the fire is expected to be completely contained by noon today.

Firefighting efforts were aided by rain that fell on portions of the fire overnight on Wednesday which increased fuel moisture.

Although smoke continues to be seen, most of it is from interior islands of unburned fuels or from heavier fuels that are located well interior of the line.

Several engines and a hand crew that are being demobilized today have been reassigned to other incidences. Management of the fire will be turned back to the park with some crews remaining on scene to monitor and patrol.

Wind Cave staff had begun what was supposed to be a 1,000 acre prescribed burn of Cold Brook Burn’s Unit 2, which was postponed in 2014 due to forecasted poor weather, when it escaped control early Monday afternoon.

The fire had been burning as planned for several hours until an unpredictable fire whirl, or dust devil, picked up burning ash and carried material into high grass outside of the planned burn area. Pushed by strong westerly winds, the fire quickly moved beyond containment efforts.

It was designated a wildfire at 1:30pm on Monday.

Despite the fire, the park remains open. However, it’s back country and hiking trails are closed and visitors are strongly encouraged to stay on established roads and watch for emergency vehicles.

A map showing the park's visitor center in relation to prescribed burn (red) and the wildfire (orange) at Wind Cave National Park.

A map showing the park’s visitor center in relation to prescribed burn (red) and the wildfire (orange) at Wind Cave National Park.

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