Black Hills National Forest gains extra crew members for wildfire resources

With the lack of resources to respond to the already ignited flames and potential fire dangers around the nation and the area, the Black Hills National Forest has called in some extra help.
With the lack of resources to respond to the already ignited flames and potential fire dangers...
With the lack of resources to respond to the already ignited flames and potential fire dangers around the nation and the area, the Black Hills National Forest has called in some extra help.(Gillian Trudeau)
Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 6:47 PM EDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) -Black Hills National Forest’s firefighters have called for additional resources for the first time.

“Different roles, every assignment’s different. You go all over the place, this is my first time in the Black Hills so it’s pretty neat being up here,” said Bryce Havercamp, assistant crew boss on the Kansas state suppression module.

10 firefighters from the Kansas Forest Service arrived in South Dakota last week to assist with anticipated wildfires. These wildland fire suppression specialists are assigned into groups called modules.

“This has actually been a project about a year and a half in the making. We saw a need last year with more suppression modules going out, that not only can it be a great state resource but also a national resource,” said Christopher Hanson, Kansas state suppression module leader.

The suppression modules are designed to focus on wildfire suppression, but they don’t sit around waiting for sparks.

“When there’s not a fire, we use these as local resources to try to help some restoration around the forest, patrol for abandoned campfires, be ready for initial attack, but also help do some fuel work for the Black Hills National Forest in fuel reductions around either private entities or across the forest,” said Jared Hohn, deputy fire staff at Black Hills National Forest.

The Great Plains Interagency Fire Center, which covers South Dakota, has reported 51 wildfires in the state in June alone. Since January, the state has seen 102 wildfires. And nationally, 33 large fires have burned more than 360,000 acres across 10 states as of last week.

“It’s based on needs so either you go to an actual fire or you get picked up on an assignment like this where areas are in high fire danger, they want additional resources in the area so if they do get a fire you can catch it,” Havercamp said.

The module integrated with the Black Hills National Forest firefighters will continue working for about another week, they will then go home for a break, and later respond to a wildfire or to a request for another assignment where necessary. Hohn predicts the Rocky Mountain region will be their next stop due to its high fire activity.

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