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Rapid City firefighters battle subzero wind chills, toxic smoke in industrial building fire

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RAPID CITY, South Dakota — Rapid City firefighters had to battle bitter cold and toxic smoke when they fought a blaze in a large building in an industrial park.

No injuries were reported from the Wednesday afternoon blaze. Firefighters had protective gear, and no one without the proper equipment was allowed near the scene. Traffic was rerouted for about three hours, according to Fire Department spokesman Oliver White.

An auto shop, a landscaping company and a basement repair business rent space in the building, owner Scott Totten told the Rapid City Journal. He did not know which businesses were operating Wednesday.

The toxic smoke was created by used oil, petroleum products and cleaning agents that were inside the building, according to White. Firefighters reported several small explosions inside the building as they fought the flames.

Firefighters also had to deal with frigid cold during the 2 ½ hours that it took them to contain the fire. The air temperature was 12 degrees at the time the call came in, with a wind chill of minus 10 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

One fire truck had unspecified equipment problems caused by the cold, and firefighters on the hose line had to be rotated to ensure their uniforms didn't become too wet.

"Anytime when it's cold and windy out, it makes it even tougher," White said.

The cause of the fire wasn't immediately determined. The building likely is destroyed, White said.

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