- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, S.D. (AP) - National Park Service officials and fire fighters are ready for a nearly 2,200-acre planned fire at Wind Cave National Park in southwest South Dakota.

The blaze is scheduled for Thursday and is expected to last three days. The burn will keep ponderosa pine trees from encroaching on the prairie land.

The fire will be in the park’s southwest corner. About 50 firefighters will be on hand.

Smoke is expected to be heavy along Highway 385 and the surrounding region. Portions of the highway will be closed periodically because of the smoke.

The prescribed fire program began in 1972. Parts of the park are burned in a controlled setting every year. The fire removes the buildup of dead brush that could fuel a wildfire and rejuvenates the prairie grasses.

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