Lightning set Crow Peak on fire over a week ago. As of 8:30 p.m. MDT last night, the fire had burned 1,677 acres—2.6 square miles. In town terms, draw a rectangle over Aberdeen with Presentation College and Northern State has diagonal corners, burn that up plus the three blocks east to Dakota Street—that’s the size of the Crow Peak fire. 537 personnel had achieved 15% containment. No structures have burned yet.
Outdoorsman and teacher Bob Speirs lives just west of Crow Peak. He’s not too worried about the fire. Aside from all the looky-loos and helicopters, Speirs says the fire is actually a beautiful thing:
I have lived in the western shadows of Crow Peak for nearly three decades and in all of that time, I have never had this much company.Long lines of tourists pack the drive sitting with cameras and binoculars watching the mountain shed an irritating layer of pines from its back after a fortuitous lightning strike gave her the opportunity to lose some weight.
…History tells us that between burrowing beetles and fire, the pine forest has been regularly swept away to make room for oak and aspen, grasses and wildlife. Each time those who are merely tourists mourn the darkening of a specific view.
If you are only here for a short time, it seems such an inconvenience and perhaps even a loss to have a view you cherish altered during your stay here, be that stay days or years.
But if you live long enough, or have faith that you might, a fire can be a beautiful thing [Bob Speirs, “If You Live Long Enough,” South Dakota Hunting, 2016.06.30].
Looking west every morning to see Crow Peak’s Bactrian humps catching the first sunlight was one of my favorite parts of living in Spearfish. I ache a little to see photos of the mountain smoking black, but I take comfort in Bob’s long view. Fire is dangerous and destructive, but it’s how the forest works. Don’t fret the change… and don’t clog up Bob’s driveway.