Fire Management

The Black Hills National Forest Fire and Aviation program includes three zones (representing the four Ranger Districts of the Forest) with program oversight and leadership provided from the Supervisor’s Office located in Custer, SD.


Great Plains Fire InformationRed Canyon FireForest AppPile BurningGreat Plains Dispatch CenterTatanka HotshotsCement Ridge Lookout Tower



Response to Wildland fires occurs on the Black Hills National Forest 12 months of the year. The primary fire season runs from May through October. The 30 year average has 109 fires per year that burn an average of 8,900 acres per year.  Approximately 75% of fires are lightning caused with the remainder being human caused. Fire return interval ranges from 10-40+ years on the forest; more frequently on the South end of the forest.

In 2017, 101 fires burned 219 acres.  In 2017, 67,372 acres were treated for hazardous fuel reduction with the majority of the acres being mechanical treatments. Average time to contain large fires (those over 300 acres with the largest being 84,000 acres) is 5-7 days. Our fuels, topography and roads allow for direct suppression tactics to be highly successful and not requiring long term commitment of critical nationally shared resources.

Mountain Pine Beetle has had an impact on fuel profiles which have greater resistance to control as stands begin to deteriorate and fall to the ground. 

Strong interagency relationships are a critical part of the overall fire management program. The forest is served by the Great Plains Interagency Dispatch Center, managed by an interagency Board of Directors with each state and federal agency having a representative.

See Current Fire Information


Prescribed Fire

Drip Torch

Every fall, Black Hills National Forest fire managers begin to look at weather and fuel conditions for prescribed burning.

Fire Hire

Fire Engine

Seasonal firefighting positions run May through November with occasional opportunities to work during the winter.


Black Hills Area Fire Restrictions

Crow Peak Fire Aerial Attack

See current fire restrictions for counties, the National Park Service, BLM, State Park and Forest Service in the Black Hills area.

Fire Prevention

Fire crew fighting fire

Fire officials say now is the time to take steps to make your home Firewise.


Lookout Towers Map

Custer Peak Lookout

There are 7 active & staffed lookouts in the Black Hills & 5 of these are on the Black Hills National Forest.

Interagency Fire School 2017 Photos

Fire School 2017

Thirty two future firefighters went through an intensive interagency basic firefighter school at Boxelder Job Corps Center located near Nemo, SD to prepare for the summer season.