A man reportedly broke into a house on Tumbleweed Lane in what Cascade Country Sheriff Bob Edwards called a home invasion.
At some point, authorities say the suspect likely caused the fire in the home.
The forced-out homeowner went to a neighbor’s house and reported it to the authorities shortly before 1 p.m.
Sheriff Edwards says when a deputy drove to the scene, he encountered the suspect at a nearby junction in the road several hundred meters in front of the house.
The deputy chased the suspect in a car to another home.
The suspect invaded a second home and forced the homeowner out.
The deputy at that time detained the homeowner in his car to investigate.
Law enforcement officers began surrounding the second home when they heard several gunshots.
As officers closed in, they found the suspect dead of a self-inflicted gunshot in the backyard of the second house.
Sheriff Edwards says no shots were fired by law enforcement.
The house that burned has been deemed a complete loss.
Responding agencies included Black Eagle Volunteer Fire Department, Cascade County Sheriff's Office, and the Great Falls Police Department; we will update the list once we get more details.
The name of the suspect has not yet been released.
There are no reports at this time that anyone was injured.
The amount of damage caused by the fire has not yet been determined.
We will update you as we get more information.
(UPDATE, 9:55 p.m.) Sheriff Edwards released the following statement:
The preliminary assessment of the incident today on Tumbleweed Drive was that this incident was not a random act.
The investigation is being conducted by the State Department of Criminal Investigation. As the Sheriff, I requested DCI to investigate due to the fact that the suspect in this incident was being pursued by my deputies.
(1st Report, Monday @ 1:13 p.m.) Emergency crews have been dispatched to a reported fire several miles southwest of Great Falls.
The fire is reported to be at or near 55 Tumbleweed Lane, and was reported just before 1 p.m.
Volunteer firefighters and Cascade County Sheriff's deputies are responding to the scene.
At this point, there are no reports of any injuries.
We do not yet know if the fire is burning in a field, or endangering any homes.
We have a reporter headed to the area and will update you as we get more information.