Wildfire burns near Mount Rushmore week before Trump visit

Associated Press

Custer, S.D. – South Dakota is bringing in more resources to fight a wildfire that burned Thursday near Mount Rushmore ahead of next week’s visit to the monument by President Donald Trump for Independence Day celebrations.

The fire that started in Custer State Park on Wednesday burned an estimated 150 acres (60 hectares) about 6 miles (10 kilometers) south of the 79-year-old stone monument.

This Dec. 8, 2019, photo shows shows Mount Rushmore in Keystone, S.D. Organizers have scrapped plans to mandate social distancing during President Donald Trump's appearance at a July 3, 2020, Mount Rushmore fireworks display and won't limit the crowd due to coronavirus concerns, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said Thursday, June 4, 2020.

The fire covered 60 acres (24 hectares) and was 25% contained on Thursday morning, according to Gov. Kristi Noem’s spokesman Ian Fury. He said 117 firefighters were on the scene and that heavy rain was expected in the evening.

The Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center tweeted Wednesday evening that eight aircraft had been deployed to fight the wildfire and that hotshot crews of highly trained firefighters from Wyoming and Colorado had been mobilized.

Trump is planning to attend a fireworks display at the monument July 3. Some wildfire experts have raised concerns that the pyrotechnics could spark more fires, especially because the region has seen dry weather this year.

Noem has said that event planners are hoping for rain this week, but are monitoring fire conditions and would decide if it is safe to set off fireworks.