Firefighters Face Danger as They Battle Box Elder Munitions Fire
Rapid City Fire Public Information Officer Jim Bussell says Ultramax Ammunition management provided invaluable information to firefighters by detailing the amount and type of ammunition inside.
It's estimated up to two million rounds of ammunition may have been lost in the blaze. He says firefighters were waiting until ammunition quit popping before going in to tackle hot spots.
There have been no injuries reported. Owners and management at Ultramax Ammunition evacuated the building before firefighters got there. Bussell says the ATF is investigating the fire because Ultramax Ammunition is licensed by the ATF.
KEVN Black Hills Fox TV is reporting that "while the threat of ammunition exploding has subsided, firefighters are still concerned about the fire that engulfed the Ultramax company late Tuesday morning."
UPDATE: The Rapid City Journal is reporting that three schools in close proximity to the Ultramax Ammunition fire have been affected by the situation.
"Rapid Valley Elementary School, East Middle School and Valley View Elementary have taken precautionary measures so students aren't exposed to hazardous smoke coming from Ultramax Ammunition in Box Elder, which caught fire this morning."
Katy Urban, a spokesman for the Rapid City Area Schools, told the Journal that "recess was canceled for some students at the schools, but class is expected to be dismissed at the regular time."
UPDATE: According to the Associated Press "Firefighters are letting flames burn out at a South Dakota ammunition company where more than 2 million rounds of ammunition were stored."
According to the Associated Press firefighters are engaged in battling a fire inside a Box Elder ammunition company and there are fears of a potential explosion. Authorities are initiating evacuations.
"The blaze was reported Tuesday at the Ultramax Ammunition company in Box Elder, a city just east of Rapid City," reports the AP. "Authorities are evacuating people around the business, but it wasn't immediately clear how many people were being asked to leave."
Interstate 90 has been closed as a precaution.
The Associate Press is report that "photos of the scene show the facility engulfed in flames and billowing black smoke."
"We have a large blast zone that we are concerned about," Rapid City Fire Department spokesman Lt. Jim Bussell told the Rapid City Journal. "Those have the ability of being projectiles from a fair distance. But with the large amount of powder inside we are looking at potentially a large explosion."
According to KNBN-TV Newscenter 1 "The northbound off-ramp at Interstate 90 Exit 61 remains closed. Elk Vale Road to Seger Drive is closed. East Mall Drive from Dakota Craft Drive to Elk Vale Road is closed. The service road east of the Flying J over to the area of Motive Parts and Supply Inc. is closed. All businesses in that area are evacuated"
More information as it becomes available.