George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln should wear masks, and it would have nothing to do with viruses. Wildfires thick with smoke is closing Mount Rushmore until the fires burning around Rapid City can be brought under control.

It has been a tough week in South Dakota as wildfires popped up in several locations including Brandon, Dell Rapids, and Rapid City. Red Flag Warnings were issued due to high winds and dry conditions which made the environment ripe for spreading fires with the danger of getting out of control quickly.

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According to USA Today, 3 separate wildfires are burning around Rapid City and the National Parks Service has closed Mount Rushmore for today (Tuesday) and possibly further out. Local authorities have evacuated more than 400 homes as several structures and at least one house have been destroyed. No injuries have been reported.

Between the 3 active Rapid City fires, just over 1,000 acres are on fire and authorities have closed several roads throughout the Black Hills.

Governor Kristi Noem has arrived in Rapid City to oversee response efforts.

"The fires are burning timber with very high potential for spread due to elevated winds." ~ Rapid City Journal

A cold front is moving through the region but the winds are still expected to remain high.

Note: the above photo, taken by Levi Jones on Unsplash, shows Mount Rushmore during a controlled burn and not at this time.

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