In these videos by Terry Nelsen, Erickson’s MD-87 air tankers are seen dropping water on the Rankin Fire in Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota September 13, 2017. Both Tankers 101 and 103 were used on the fires in the area.
One of the firefighters told us that after the Rankin Fire had been burning for a while an MD-87 en route to drop water on the fire in the park was diverted to a new fire just starting, the Beaver Fire between Wind Cave NP and Pringle, South Dakota
Wind Cave NP has a policy that the Park Superintendent can on a case by case basis decide if retardant will be banned on individual wildfires. In the case of the Rankin Fire, he decided he did not want retardant used, so the air tankers were using plain water.
Fire engines are allowed to drive off the road to suppress fires in Wind Cave National Park but in some cases retardant is banned.
Incident Commander Todd Hoover provided information about the Beaver Fire east of Pringle, South Dakota, September 14, 2017. We asked him about how aircraft were used, and we also have video and still photos of firefighters, air tankers, and helicopters.
The fire has burned approximately 400 acres between Wind Cave National Park and Pringle, South Dakota. On Friday, September 15, it was slowed by rain in the area.
The photo above is spectacular. It is a close-up of one of the most recently converted air tankers, an MD-87, dropping on the fire.
This is how he described getting the shot:
I was waiting for this and it broke out [of the] heavy smoke and this is the one full image I shot. Was on the back side of the fire with a Canon 7D and a 70-200 f2.8 on the camera cranked all the way down to 70mm.
The photo below of a National Guard Blackhawk helicopter on the Beaver Fire is also courtesy of Mr. Ryan.
Above: N137BH, a Siskorsly 70A or “Firehawk”, flies to refill its water bucket after dropping on the Rankin Fire September 13, 2017. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
(Originally published at 12:08 a.m. MDT September 14, 2017)
A handful of aircraft were working to fires in the southern Black Hills of South Dakota on Wednesday, two MD-87 air tankers, and two helicopters, a Bell 407 and a Sikorsky 70A “Firehawk”.
The Rankin Fire in Wind Cave National Park has burned about 1,192 acres while the Beaver Fire just outside the park on the Black Hills National Forest covered approximately 140 acres just a few hours after it was reported
(Click on a photo below to see larger versions. The caption is at the top.)
Above: Tanker 475 reloading at Hot Springs, SD, during the Sheps Canyon Fire, September 4, 2017.
(Originally published at 10:24 p.m. MDT, September 4, 2017)
A New Frontiers Aviation Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) assisted firefighters on the Sheps Canyon Fire near Lake Angostura in the Black Hills of South Dakota Monday. According to the FAA registry Air Tanker 475 is a WSK-PZL MEILEC. The aircraft came out of the Valentine, Nebraska SEAT base since the SEAT stationed at Hot Springs five miles northeast of the fire was not staffed today. T-475 reloaded with retardant at Hot Springs, but had to go to Rapid City to refuel since the Hot Springs Airport does not have Jet-A fuel.
The original dispatch for the Sheps Canyon fire was a camper vehicle fire. It spread into the vegetation burning about 13 acres before firefighters were able to knock it down.
I cruised through Wind Cave National Park today while firefighters were dealing with the Prairie Dog Fire that burned a couple of acres (at last count) more or less in the center of the park. It was burning in timber and grass, slowly, since there is still a lot of greenness left in the herbaceous vegetation. There was a great deal of lightning yesterday, and this little blaze was a result.
The Eurocopter AS350 B3, assigned to Custer, SD and operated by Trans Aero LTD was on scene parked near the intersection of US Hwy. 385 and State Highway 87. I grabbed a few pictures of it, and a grainy shot of the fire that was a mile or more away. Trans Aero names all of their ships, and since this one was in Italy when they purchased it, the name that stuck was “The Italian Job”, registered in the US as N357TA.
Almost exactly a year ago we shot photos of the same helicopter and many other aircraft at the Red Canyon Fire southwest of Pringle, South Dakota.
By Ed Jensen, Airport Manager, Hot Springs Municipal Airport, South Dakota
The Hot Springs Municipal Airport has been a busy place this last month. The single engine air tanker (SEAT plane) based out of the Hot Springs Airport during the summer months has been especially busy. Just in the month of July alone, the Wildland Fire Division crew operating it has flown over eighty fire missions within western South Dakota. Wildland Fire was also quite busy with the Indian Canyon Fire by Edgemont, having four planes flying out of our airport to assist in putting that fire out. We are really glad to have them based here in Hot Springs for immediate the fire protection of our area.
Switching gears from firefighting operations at our airport, we also saw an increase of recreation users this last week during the Oshkosh, WI fly-in. Many planes traveling to Oshkosh for the fly in chose to land in Hot Springs for fuel with some renting hangar space for the night. Many also stopped again on their way home to refuel their planes. Separate of the fly-in, we were lucky enough to see a 7/8 scale P-51 Mustang land here on July 30th. For those familiar with aircraft, you know this was a sight to see.
Above: Air tanker 866 drops on the Red Canyon Fire. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
The lightning-caused Red Canyon Fire was reported at 12:45 p.m. MDT on Saturday 9 miles southwest of Pringle, South Dakota but an aggressive attack on the ground and from the air stopped it at 13 acres.
In addition to engines, and water tenders, and four hand crews, at least 10 aircraft joined the battle. We were there for a couple of hours and observed one large air tanker, at least five single engine air tankers, one Sikorsky Skycrane helicopter, a lead plane, an air attack ship, and an Astar B3 helicopter.
In the gallery below, click on an image to see a larger version, then click the arrow buttons.
Tanker 07, a P2V, drops on the Red Canyon Fire, July 9, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
A lead plane produces smoke to mark the desired location of an air tanker drop on the Red Canyon Fire
Air Tanker 850 drops on the Red Canyon Fire. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
Helitanker 718 on the Red Canyon Fire. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
Helitanker 718 on the Red Canyon Fire. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
Helitanker 718 drops on the Red Canyon Fire. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
Air tanker 455 drops on the Red Canyon Fire. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
Air tanker 866 drops on the Red Canyon Fire. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
The Astar B3 helicopter based at Custer, SD refills its bucket at a heliwell on the Red Canyon Fire. Photo by Bill Gabbert.