An ammunition manufacturing plant caught fire Tuesday in Rapid City. Firefighters are strategically keeping their distance and the Ultramax Ammunition building has burned to the ground.
Box Elder, Rapid City and Hill City Fire Departments found heavy smoke and flames coming from a structure fire early afternoon. Lt. Jim Bussell is the Public Information Officer with the Rapid City Police Department. Bussell says several surrounding businesses and sections of roads are still closed.
“So this is a building that has over two million rounds of ammunition inside which is an incredible amount of powder. That coupled with the raw powder that was inside, it poses a significant hazard potential for explosion.”
Two nearby schools are keeping classes inside to prevent children from inhaling smoke. Bussell urges others close to the fire to stay inside as well. He says surrounding roads are expected to reopen after firefighters are able to step in.
“There was nothing that we were going to do, nothing that we were going to do to put the fire out. It had a very large head start on us. So we chose to instead of engage, back off and provide for public and firefighter safety.
Bussell says Ultramax Ammunition is licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives. He says ATF is expected to start an investigation tomorrow.