Three “dangerous” wildfires in the Black Hills of South Dakota have forced the evacuations of hundreds of homes and the shutdown of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, officials said.
A blaze that started in the Nemo area, about 15 miles northwest of Rapid City, had burned as much as 1.5 square miles and was “still moving” late Monday, according to the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office.
“This is a very active and dangerous scene, Law Enforcement requests that citizens stay out of the area, and use alternate routes,” the sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook.
Several outbuildings and at least one home were destroyed, officials said.
Gov. Kristi Noem, who traveled to Rapid City to oversee the response, said the Schroeder Road fire was sparked on private property, adding that “there have been losses and that is tragic.”
Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom said between 400 and 500 homes had been evacuated, according to the Rapid City Journal. No injuries have been reported.
About 250 firefighters were battling the fire on a windy afternoon when gusts have ranged from around 50 mph to 72 mph, the news outlet reported.
Two other fires were burning southwest of Rapid City, near Keystone, with one covering about 75 acres and the other 20 acres.
That has caused Mount Rushmore to close through at least Wednesday, officials said.
With northwesterly winds expected to increase to 25 to 35 mph with gusts to 45 mph, the National Weather Service in Rapid City extended a red flag warning through Tuesday for the region, USA Today reported.
With Post wires
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