RAPID CITY, SD – With drought conditions only appearing to expand across much of the Interior West, fire season is off to an early start nationwide.
Tessa Jaeger, public information officer for the Rapid City Fire Department (RCFD), says local firefighters are already contributing.
“There are fires all over the nation,” said Jaeger. “We have one crew and two single resources out on wildland assignments right now. We also have our Rapid Extrication Module team that left on Friday to the Cooks Peak Fire in New Mexico. They are on a two week assignment. Right now, that fire has burned over 51,000 acres and is only at 9% containment.”
The two “single resource” firefighters are a little closer to home, but are battling a very active fire.
“They went to the Road 702 fire in Nebraska on a two week assignment. They are Division Supervisors who were requested by the Rocky Mountain Complex Incident Management Team 1 to assist with overhead supervision. That fire has burned over 41,000 acres and is presently at 47% containment.”
Jaeger took a moment to highlight just how severe that fire in Nebraska is.
“Unfortunately, several firefighters have been injured. And a retired fire chief who didn’t make it out of the fire alive. It’s been a very severe fire.”
The RCFD has announced plans to host a second academy this autumn, and Jaeger said the plan is to hire around 10 new firefighters.
The National Wildfire News reported 11 new large fires were reported over the past weekend (April22-24), four in New Mexico, three in Colorado, and one in Florida, Nebraska, South Dakota and Texas.
More than 2,700 wildland firefighters are assigned to incidents in eight states. Four Type 1 incident management teams (IMT), one Type 2 IMT are assigned to incidents in the Southwest area. One complex incident management team are assigned to a wildfire in the Rocky Mountain area. A complex incident management team is configured to respond to large, complex fires and can expand and reduce staffing in all functional areas as necessary to meet the needs of the incident.
To date, 20,262 wildfires have burned 865,290 acres. This continues to be well above the 10-year average of 14,522 wildfires have burned 669,042 acres.
Fuels and fire behavior advisories have been issued for eastern North Carolina, western Texas, Oklahoma, central Kansas and Nebraska. Read these advisories on the Predictive Services Fuels and Fire Danger website.
More wildfire information here: https://www.nifc.gov/fire-information/nfn