As President Donald Trump prepares for the fireworks event at Mount Rushmore, Fire Behaviour Analysts predict the possibility of a wildfire from burning embers.
The tradition of a fireworks event at Mount Rushmore has not been displayed since 2009 because during the 11 years it was carried out, around 20 to 27 wildfires were ignited. During the event in 2000, a fire started that burned through to the next day, spread to several acres, and required 20 fire-fighters plus a helicopter to control and extinguish.
A former wildland firefighter with the National Park Service and US Forest Service, Mike Beasley is a Fire Behaviour Analyst. He predicts the possibility of fires spreading and is skilled in the science of how fires burn.
According to Beasley’s studies, using algorithms and computer models, if the fireworks show begins at 9:15 to 9:30, the PIG at that time will be 50 percent. The PIG is the Probability of Ignition which is the chance that a burning ember will cause an ignition when it falls on receptive fuels. The NPS Midwest Regional Office set a maximum allowable PIG at “less than 10 percent” to prevent a wildfire.
Beasley also stated that if prior to the fireworks a light rainfall occurs on Friday, the fireworks event could have a PIG at zero percent.