M Hill fire forward progress stopped

Published: Jul. 13, 2016 at 11:41 PM CDT
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The M Hill fire is not contained, but forward progress of the fire has been stopped. As the day begins fire crews are concerned conditions could aggravate the fire. Therefore, crews are assessing the current line around the fire to see if anything needs to be strengthened.

Thanks to good GPS mapping the fire is now being assessed at 13.36 acres. It was originally believed to be 15 acres.

Initial crews will be relieved from the fire by a new crew starting at 8 a.m. and will begin tackling the fire after a briefing.

Fire behavior really died down Wednesday night and smoke dispersal is better than anticipated.

Smoke is a concern for anyone with respiratory issues as smoke now settled over Rapid City.

A helicopter really helped in attacking the flames Wednesday night.

Another media briefing will take place at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Thursday.

Original Wednesday night update:

A call from the Rapid City Police Department to the Rapid City Fire Department concerning a fire on M Hill came in at 6:57pm on Wednesday.

The fire continues to burn through the night and was so intense on first arrival that an order for mutual aid was placed.

Because of the wind and the dry conditions the fire spread very quickly at the top of the hill. The fire was moving very fast, torching and spotting the trees in its path.

Making the situation even more dangerous, many people were hiking on the hill when the fire started and raced to get down to safety.

A helicopter was quickly called in to help. It's believed the fire is human caused.

"This is escalating in a hurry, obviously it's in the middle of town." Lt. Jim Bussell said, "We've had fires here on M Hill in the past but with the dry conditions, the close to red flag conditions we've had today, now the gusty winds and couple that with hikers on the hill it's a very serious situation."

Fighting the fire are crews from Rapid City, multiple Pennington County departments, crews from the U.S. Forest service and State Wildland. There are two hand crews, a bulldozer and a type 1 helicopter dropping water on the fire.