Debris pile believed to be source of fire that burned more than 2,200 acres west of Rapid City

April 20, 2021

PIERRE, S.D. – A debris/slash pile is thought to be the origin of the Schroeder Fire that burned 2,224 acres west of Rapid City in late March.

An investigation by South Dakota Wildland Fire and the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office indicates that an escape from that debris/slash pile cannot be eliminated as the cause of the blaze that started March 29 along Schroeder Road. The investigation report eliminates lightning, cigarette smoking, glass refraction/reflection and arson as potential causes of the fire.

Based on the investigation, the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office said the fire started at a property located at 8875 Schroeder Road. The property owner did have a valid burn permit.

More than 150 personnel responded to the fire that eventually expanded from Schroeder Road to Nemo Road and Westberry Trails. At least one home, two outbuildings and a porch were destroyed by the fire and 400-500 people were temporarily evacuated.

A wildland fire cause-and-origin investigator and the sheriff’s office conducted interviews with the residents of the Schroeder Road property, other witnesses and individuals with potential knowledge of the fire. Based on the information to date, and in consultation with the Pennington County States Attorney, no criminal charges are being filed at this time.