The ARRL reports while participating in the Black Hills Amateur Radio Club’s (ARC) annual Summits on the Air (SOTA) event in South Dakota on July 16, 2022, two amateur radio operators helped spot a potential forest fire
Ryan Lindblom, KE0LXT, President of the Black Hills ARC, and Christopher Jaques, KD0RAS, had made their trek to Cicero Peak. Just before heading back down, they noticed what might be smoke or dust to the south near Hot Springs. Lindblom made a contact on their simplex frequency to ask a local amateur radio operator if there had been any reports of Forest Service activity in the area.
An off-duty ranger was monitoring a local ham repeater from his home, heard traffic from Cicero Peak, and called in the alert. A fire crew and a helicopter were able to contain a small fire 2.5 miles south of Pringle, South Dakota.
Ward Hall, WC0Y, attending the Black Hills SOTA weekend for his second year, reported that a forest ranger on Bear Mountain stepped out of the ranger tower to greet him, but at the time, was busy monitoring firefighting traffic.
“I could hear the radio activity while I was on the ground near the tower,” said Hall. “The ranger later told me that the Forest Service was alerted to a small fire when an off-duty ranger was monitoring a local ham repeater and heard the traffic from Cicero Peak.” Hall said the ranger credited the ham activity for an early alert that allowed them to address the fire while it was small. “He was very appreciative of how the ham activity helped them and asked that I pass it on,” Hall added.
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