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Fire restrictions may be on horizon

Jason Ferguson
Published: Thursday, March 21st, 2013

It’s only March, but unless Custer County receives significant precipitation in the next four to six weeks, fire restrictions may be put in place before tourism season ever gets started.
At the March 13 meeting of the Custer County Commission, county emergency management director Mike Carter told the commission the county has already had three fires in the last two weeks, including one near Linde’s Sawmill south of town, one near Hermosa and a 107-acre fire in the Argyle area.
Commissioner Jim Lintz, who is also a member of the Hermosa Volunteer Fire Department, said the area near Hermosa that particular fire started is fortunate the fire did not have the fuel to grow, as winds were upwards of 30 mph when it started.
“If we get one in the foothills with that wind, we are in trouble,” he said. “It is so dry out there.”
Carter said restrictions are already being considered by an interagency coalition of counties, consisting of the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, etc., but stressed restrictions weren’t “coming tomorrow.” Carter said the group will wait to see if any significant precipitation is received in the next four to six weeks, but said things aren’t looking good.
“It’s much drier this year than it was this time last year,” he said.
Carter said the group hasn’t decided if it would start with light restrictions and work them up, or start with heavy restrictions. He said a drought monitor has shown that the Panhandle of Nebraska and southern South Dakota may be in the worst shape in the nation in terms of drought.
“When we start having fires in February and March, that’s a little scary,” commissioner Phil Lampert said.

It’s only March, but unless Custer County receives significant precipitation in the next four to six weeks, fire restrictions may be put in place before tourism season ever gets started.

At the March 13 meeting of the Custer County Commission, county emergency management director Mike Carter told the commission the county has already had three fires in the last two weeks, including one near Linde’s Sawmill south of town, one near Hermosa and a 107-acre fire in the Argyle area.

Commissioner Jim Lintz, who is also a member of the Hermosa Volunteer Fire Department, said the area near Hermosa that particular fire started is fortunate the fire did not have the fuel to grow, as winds were upwards of 30 mph when it started.

“If we get one in the foothills with that wind, we are in trouble,” he said. “It is so dry out there.”

Carter said restrictions are already being considered by an interagency coalition of counties, consisting of the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, etc., but stressed restrictions weren’t “coming tomorrow.” Carter said the group will wait to see if any significant precipitation is received in the next four to six weeks, but said things aren’t looking good.

“It’s much drier this year than it was this time last year,” he said.

Carter said the group hasn’t decided if it would start with light restrictions and work them up, or start with heavy restrictions. He said a drought monitor has shown that the Panhandle of Nebraska and southern South Dakota may be in the worst shape in the nation in terms of drought.

“When we start having fires in February and March, that’s a little scary,” commissioner Phil Lampert said.

Available only print version of the Custer County Chronicle. To subscribe, call 605-673-2217.



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