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UPDATE: Auburn Fire grows to between 500 and 750 acres but 25% contained, firefighters report

A grass fire north of Rapid City has burned between 500 and 750 acres as of 8 a.m. Tuesday but is 25% contained, according to Great Plains Fire.

Firefighters completed successful burn on the west and north side of the fire overnight to help secure a fire line around the perimeter of the fire. Today's plan calls for securing the perimeter and using aircraft to help fight the blaze.

Evacuations ordered Monday, meanwhile, remain in effect. No structure have been reported damaged by the fire.

Firefighters are expecting "near critical fire conditions through Wednesday," which mean high temperatures in the 80s and possibly the 90s, wind gusts out of the south ranging from 10 to 20 mph and humidity in the 7 to 20% range.

According to Rapid City Fire Department Public Information Officer Tessa Jaeger, the Auburn Fire began at about 1:30 p.m. Monday near the Auburn Hills neighborhood west of Haines Avenue near Henderson Drive and was moving in a northerly direction. The cause is under investigation.

"We do have multiple crews out here working on the fire and it is still running really hot towards the Deadwood Avenue area," Jaeger said. "We do have air assets on the way."

As of 6:15 p.m. Monday, the Auburn fire was 250 to 300 acres in size, moving northeast and is 0% contained, Great Plains Fire Information said. The flames are being fueled by abnormally high temperatures and gusty winds, coupled with extreme dry conditions.

A time lapse video from downtown Rapid City on Monday shows smoke billowing from the Auburn Hills fire between Haines Avenue and Deadwood Avenue, north of Interstate 90.

Early Monday evening, the fire crossed into Meade County, prompting officials there to warn residents that evacuations may be forthcoming.

"Any residents who live north of the Pennington County line, west of Erickson Ranch Road, and south of Elk Creek Road are encouraged to be ready to evacuate if an order is given," Meade County Emergency Management said in an alert sent Monday evening.

GPFI said Monday afternoon that single-engine air tankers were dropping retardant on the north and west flanks of the fire. Additional air attack platforms were en route and a helicopter was performing bucket work. The Rapid City Air Tanker Base at Rapid City Regional Airport reopened to supply water and retardant.

"On the north and east sides of the fire, firefighters are going as direct as possible to install containment lines," an update from GPFI said. "On the west side of the fire, firefighters are scouting the area, looking for control features that will provide for the highest probability of success. On the south side, firefighters are holding, patrolling and mopping up."

No structures have been damaged in the fire, GPFI said.

Brendyn Medina, public information officer with the Rapid City Police Department, said officers were along Deadwood Avenue, north of Interstate 90, to assist with mandatory evacuations in the Marvel Mountain neighborhood. Officers also assisted with traffic diversion after Deadwood Avenue and Peaceful Pines Road were closed.

"All available personnel from the police department are being called to assist with those mandatory evacuations," Medina said at the time.

Pennington County Emergency Management said the fire was impacting areas in Meade County. The Rapid City Police Department is asking the public to avoid the area north of Interstate 90 between Haines Avenue and Deadwood Avenue.

A phone line has been established for residents seeking information on the fire by calling 605-923-8868.

A time lapse video from downtown Rapid City on Monday shows smoke billowing from the Auburn Hills fire between Haines Avenue and Deadwood Avenue, north of Interstate 90.

Contact Nathan Thompson at nathan.thompson@rapidcityjournal.com.

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