Investigation underway for cause of house explosion

Posted at 6:17 PM, Aug 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-26 20:17:00-04

Cascade County Sheriff’s Office is investigating what caused a home to explode and catch fire early Sunday morning near Fox Farm.

One person who was staying across the river from the explosion said it shook their house.

“All of a sudden there was a big explosion,” said Brianna Fisher.

A loud boom, followed by a fireball and a plume of smoke shook people awake.

Across the river, people’s yards were covered in debris from the explosion.

“When we went outside, we saw all the insulation on our lawn and then when we looked up, just in front of us, there was this pillar of smoke and fire,” said Annelise Sunwall, who lives across the river. 

One man who lives a few houses away said he and others quickly jumped into action.

“For some reason, God up there, sent us around the back instead of in the front of the house and all the windows were blowing out. Every window was blowing out,” said Russell Taylor.

He said they were able to get a man and a woman out of the home safely, but he doesn’t consider himself a hero, just a good neighbor.

“They’re exceptional people. I’m just glad I can help him,” said Taylor.

They’re all just thankful it wasn’t any worse.

(3:15 p.m.) A house was destroyed and debris was sent across the Missouri River after an explosion on Saturday night in Great Falls.

Black Eagle Volunteer Fire Department responded to a mutual aid call from Great Falls Fire Rescue around 2 a.m. for a structure fire along Willowdale Lane, which is off of 45th Avenue SW along the Missouri River in the Fox Farm neighborhood.

According to BEVFD, the call was for a house explosion with one person inside. BEVFD said Cascade County Sheriff’s deputies were able to safely get the person out before the house burned.

There have been no reports of serious injuries at this time. A section of Willowdale Lane is still blocked off.

Debris, such as pieces of insulation, from the explosion settled in yards across the river near Lower River Road.

Information concerning the cause and nature of the explosion is not available at this time.

GFFR, Black Eagle, Gore Hill, the Montana Air National Guard, Malmstrom Air Force Base, Great Falls Emergency Services, the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, and Sally One all responded.

We will update you when we get more information.

(4:17 a.m.) We have received an unconfirmed report from a nearby resident that the two occupants of the home managed to escape without serious injuries.

Several people have told KRTV that debris from the explosion has fallen in nearby fields and property.

People posted on the KRTV Facebook page that they heard and felt the explosion across town, even as far away as the Skyline/Riverview area.

  • Christine Adamson Sheldon: "we felt it out on upper river road, had to be huge, i live on solid rock and my house moved, woke my kids up"
  • Suzette Hackmann Flemming: "We are across the field from it. Huge explosion that shook the house and rattled the windows."
  • Shauna Walton: "I’m on Fox farm road and I felt it….thought it was an earthquake when it jolted me awake"
  • Tiffany Stephen Wilson: "I’m near Sunnyside elementary and I felt my house shake and a loud noise."
  • Sarah Jean: "I thought it was an earthquake or someone ran into my house and I’m 2 miles away!"
  • Mark-Edward Miner: "I was working in my basement when the entire house shook from it on Ridge View Drive. I booked it outside and the house across the river was already gone. That’s insane."

Great Falls Fire Rescue and several other agencies responded to the fire; we don’t yet know which ones. 

We will update you when we get more information.

(2:56 a.m.) Emergency crews are at the scene of a house fire in Great Falls.

It is happening along Willowdale Lane, which is off of 45th Avenue SW along the Missouri River in the Fox Farm neighborhood.

Several people have reported hearing and feeling a loud explosion just after 2 a.m.

The sound was heard and felt as far away as the Riverview neighborhood on the north side of town.

There is no word yet on whether anyone has been injured, nor the cause of the fire.

We will update you as we get more information.

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