Wildfire Near Hot Springs, South Dakota

February 22, 2008

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Provided and copyright by: David Brown
Summary authors & editors: David Brown, Stu Witmer

The photo above shows a time exposure of the Alabaugh Fire that burned 10,324 acres of South Dakota. This devastating wildfire was caused by a lightning strike 3 miles southwest of Hot Springs just after 7 p.m. on July 7, 2007. This area of the southern Black Hills has been especially hard hit by a prolonged drought. The day the fire began the high temperature was 109 F (43 C) with a relative humidity of six percent! A cold front moved through that evening setting off multiple electrical storms throughout the Black Hills. The fire grew exponentially within just a few hours with help from gusty winds associated with the cold front. The fire claimed one man’s life and destroyed 33 homes. At one point it overran a fire crew, injuring two Forest Service firefighters with first and second degree burns to hands and a superficial burns to their faces. This most destructive fire in recent history of the Black Hills was fully contained on July 12. The image was taken July 8 at approximately 2:00 a.m. (local time) from my home at a distance of approximately 3 miles (4.8 km).

Photo details: Nikon D70 digital SLR camera, 90 second exposure time.