NEMO, S.D.(KOTA & KBHB)- As the Rapid City area fires continue to be tamed, most evacuees have been allowed back into their homes for the first time since being forced out by flames.
The evacuations came with little warning, but appear to have been useful, as no injuries or deaths have been reported at this time.
Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender said the community response to evacuees came as a surprise.
Brendyn Medina, community relations specialist for the Rapid City Police Department, was on the ground assisting in the evacuation process.
Medina said first responders are thinking of one thing when performing an evacuation.
Fire crews on the lines of the Schroeder Fire burning west of Rapid City will continue protecting structures throughout the fire area as Red Flag Warning conditions persist across Western South Dakota.
Crews will also work on constructing and improving firelines on the northern and southern edges of the fire perimeter.
The fire remains at 47-percent containment and at 2,195 acres.
Smoke and flames may be visible as the fire consumes unburned fuels within the fire’s interior, which is normal and expected.
Operations Section Chief Chris Zoller says most evacuations have been lifted for the fire area, with the exception of Nameless Cave Road and Cleghorn Canyon.
Zoller says Cleghorn Canyon and Nameless Cave Road have been areas of concern, but firefighters have done great work in making sure no structures have been lost.
Effective immediately, West Highway 44 will be re-opened to through traffic. Law enforcement will be present to ensure resident traffic only. Reduced speed limits will be posted and enforced. For firefighter safety, it will be prohibited to pull off the road or park along the highway.
Zoller says Red Flag warnings are in effect again today due to warm, dry, windy conditions, with the weather forecast calling for highs around 70 today and southwest winds of 10 – 20 mph gusting from 25 to 30 mph this afternoon. He says crews will be watchful for changing fire conditions as the wind shifts direction.
Fuels are historically dry, creating ideal conditions for rapid fire growth.
Under these conditions, it is essential for people to take extra care in order to prevent igniting a wildfire when recreating outdoors.
Also today, fire incident command met with law enforcement and announced the reopening most evacuated areas, however Nameless Cave Road and Cleghorn Canyon are to remain under evacuation orders through the night.