Helena Industries leaders say their thrift store will be closed for at least a few days, while they assess the damage from a fire Thursday night.
Interim CEO Barbara Walsh said it appears the fire started in the building’s freight elevator, then spread into a room on the second floor where extra goods are stored. She said firefighters believe it may have been caused by an electrical problem. No one was in the building at the time of the fire.
There was water damage below the fire, where employees were processing donated clothes, and much of the building received smoke damage. However, the retail floor was relatively unaffected.
Walsh said the building’s metal roof and about nine roof trusses will have to be replaced. The total value of the damage could be more than $200,000.
“We actually have fairly good insurance,” Walsh said. “It’s going to also cover some of the business income that we will lose by shutting down for a while.”
It’s still too early to know when the thrift store could open for business, though Walsh said they hope to reopen as soon as possible.
“They have to first make sure the structure is safe – and basically walled off – for us to be able to then work in the other section of the building,” she said.
Walsh said Helena Industries cannot accept donations while the store is closed. Once they reopen, though, she said they will be looking for donated clothes. Many of the clothes they had were lost because of fire or water damage. Others were exposed to smoke and may have to be thrown out.
(1st Report) A fire at Helena Industries on Thursday night caused structural damage, but there were no injuries reported.
The Helena Fire Department arrived at the intersection of Cedar Street and Montana Avenue sometime after 9 p.m. Thursday with two engines and eight firefighters. When they arrived, they saw flames coming from the roof of the building.
The Helena Fire Chief called for more firefighters, and then crews broke through the back door to get up the stairs on the second floor of the building. West Valley Fire and NorthWestern Energy also responded to the scene.
According to Lieutenant Mike McDaniel, crews were able to quickly put the fire out: “The fire was quickly extinguished by the initial entry crew and…we’re still doing some salvage and overhaul work and we’ll be investigating the fire as our fire investigation team arrives."
McDaniel said the building was empty at the time and no one was injured. The cause of the fire is still being investigated. The dollar amount of damage has not yet been determined.