RAPID CITY, S.D. (NewsNation Now) — Several wildfires forced hundreds of evacuations in South Dakota’s second-largest city and the closure of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
The largest fire is estimated at 800 acres near Rapid City, according to aerial support and several other fires were spotted.
Rapid City — located in the Black Hills National Forest — is about 23 miles from Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Another 75-acre fire developed near the monument, causing the park to close, the National Park Service confirmed.
At least two houses have been lost, officials said, but they are still doing a damage assessment. The high winds are making the fire very unpredictable, according to officials.
“There has been losses and that is tragic for those families,” Gov. Kristi Noem said in a Monday afternoon briefing.
Local officials are requesting a federal incident command crew, which will arrive late Tuesday. They will likely come from the Southwest U.S., and since it’s not traditional fire season may have a slower response.
“I watched a neighbor’s house go up in flames,” said Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom, who was also evacuated from his house with his wife.
An estimated 500 people were evacuated from their homes as of Monday evening.
Officials say the air quality is poor from the smoke on the West side of Rapid City, NewsNation affiliate KELO-TV reported. The Rapid City Fire Department is asking residents to be careful if they go outside.
FEMA has authorized federal funds to help fight the fire.
The Rapid City fire was first reported around 10 a.m. MDT.
Rapid City has a population of more than 75,000 residents.