Fire officials said residents of an apartment complex on the 1500 block of Lyndale Avenue helped save the lives of others inside after a fire destroyed the building on Sunday.
According to the Helena Fire Department, just before 2 a.m., residents inside the building were alerted to a fire after they smelled smoke.
Those residents went through the apartment complex telling their neighbors to evacuate.
There were smoke detectors in the building, but residents reported they did not hear them initially.
Fire Marshal Lou Antonick hoped the citizens who alerted their neighbors understand they helped save lives.
“Based on where they were located in the building and what they did, you know they played a critical role and if they hadn’t, it could have been a game changer,” said Antonick. “So we’re very fortunate.”
Antonick stressed the importance of making sure people have an evacuation plan in place and checking smoke detectors regularly.
“Make sure you have one in every sleeping area, one adjacent to every sleeping area in every level of the home,” said Antonick. “And keep your doors closed. You know we stress that and stress that, I can’t say that enough how important that is. It will really make a big difference in a fire inside of a structure.”
Thirteen residents were displaced by the two-story structure fire and two pets, a dog and cat, were lost.
Helena, West Valley, Lewis & Clark County, and Montana City Fire responded to the fire and crews spent over four hours fighting the blaze.
Helena Fire Assistant Chief Ken Wood said the mutual aid was greatly appreciated and crucial in fighting the fire.
“We have an amazing fire department here in the city with great guys, but we’re limited in what we can do initially,” said Wood. “We don’t have the staff to take every piece of equipment on the initial call.”
Officials estimated the damage to be around $375,000 and the building has been condemned.
The American Red Cross is currently assisting those displaced by the fire.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
(September 9, 2018) Leaders with the Helena Fire Department say about 13 people are displaced after a fire in their apartment building early Sunday morning.
According to a news release, the fire started just before 2 a.m., in the 1500 block of East Lyndale Avenue. Firefighters said it took several hours to put the fire out completely, because it was already burning heavily by the time crews arrived.
Authorities said the residents were able to get out safely, and they weren’t aware of any injuries. However, two pets were killed in the fire.
Fire crews were still on scene throughout the morning, trying to put out remaining hot spots.
“The building’s fairly old, and it’s been remodeled many times, so there’s a lot of layers of different building material here,” said HFD Battalion Chief Cory O’Brian. “It takes us time to dig through those layers. And then there was so much structural damage that it becomes an issue of balancing safety and getting the work done.”
City inspectors ruled the building “uninhabitable” because of the damage, and planned to board it up Sunday afternoon. O’Brian said he expects the building to be a total loss.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. HFD estimates it did about $375,000 of damage.
Leaders said the residents of the apartments have received some assistance already, and many are being put up in motels and other places around Helena.
O’Brian said the fire is also a reminder to ensure you have working smoke detectors around all sleeping areas. He said tenants reported they had smoke detectors, but they haven’t determined yet if they went off.
The West Valley, Lewis and Clark County and Montana City volunteer fire departments all assisted with the fire. HFD leaders thanked them for their help.