Twenty years ago, during a very hot dry summer, a match thrown from lighting a cigarette led to the largest wildfire in South Dakota History.

The Jasper Fire started on August 24, 2000. It raged for over two weeks until September 8 when it was finally contained by firefighters.

The result was the burning of 83,503 acres of the Black Hills.



In 2018 I drew an elk tag and hunted extensively in the Jasper Fire area. It was like walking onto another planet. It was absolutely impossible for my brain to take in what I was seeing. Hundreds of still standing burned trees with thousands of fallen trees contrasted with the subsequent grassland that has filled it in. Below are the photos I took in October of 2018.

The most striking thing about the burned area is how the fire would get to a certain point and would stop. Not knowing if the still mature ponderosa pines were saved by the efforts of firefighters, a change in the wind, or both was fascinating to think about as I hiked around.

Jasper Fire Area 2018

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