S.D. Fireworks Show OK'd Despite Burn Ban
Meade County residents in southwest South Dakota weren’t allowed to shoot fireworks during this year’s Fourth of July holiday, but a pyrotechnics show planned during a concert at the Buffalo Chip Campground next week will be allowed — much to the dismay of area residents.
Meade County Commissioners earlier this year approved the pyrotechnics permit for the Buffalo Chip near Sturgis but wanted to revisit the issue last week because of a burn ban in effect in Meade County and very high fire danger for most of the Black Hills, the Rapid City Journal reported.
Harold Matz, who lives near the campground, worries about sparks starting a grass fire.
“This is one of the driest years in 40 to 50 years,” he said.
But Buffalo Chip owner Rod Woodruff said the campground is prepared in case of fire. It has its own fire department, and firefighters will be on standby throughout the campground.
“We’re better set up than many businesses. And we are as concerned as anyone, if not more, about fire,” he said.
Commissioner Bob Heidgerken initially asked that language be added to the pyrotechnic request requiring that management do its utmost to prevent crowds from shooting fireworks. The motion failed because commissioners said they believed all campgrounds should pass on that request to those attending this year’s rally.
Woodruff said the Buffalo Chip would do its best to get the word out.
“We’re here to be a good citizen and be cooperative,” he said.
On July 26, the U.S. Drought Monitor showed that 20 percent of the state is now in extreme drought.
That fact is not lost on the Bureau of Land Management’s South Dakota Field Office fire management specialist Ryan Larson.
“The BLM strongly opposes any pyrotechnic displays,” Larson said Friday at the meeting. “We’re seeing 15 to 25 fires a day.”
Larson said if a fire starts, Sturgis, as well as other departments, have limited resources to combat a blaze because they are being called to help with fires throughout the Black Hills.
“If we can prevent one fire by limiting the show, I’m all for it,” he said.
Larry Barnett, a nearby landowner, concurred.
“It’s a totally ridiculous thing, in this dry year, to give a fire a chance to start,” he said.
Also at Friday’s meeting, the commission denied a pyrotechnics permit for the Full Throttle Saloon that was planned during the Jackyl show there. Commissioners said part of the reason they denied the request was because no one from the Full Throttle Saloon was on hand to answer questions.