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GFFR releases details about three recent fires

Apartment fire in Great Falls - October 7, 2023
Posted at 3:42 PM, Oct 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-10 17:46:51-04

GREAT FALLS — Great Falls Fire Rescue on Tuesday released information about several recent structure fires. Assistant Fire Chief Mike McIntosh provided the following details:

1. At 1:15 a.m. on October 7th, firefighters responded to a two alarm fire at 3440 11th Avenue South, where a 12-unit apartment building was on fire. Crews found three teenage girls trapped on a third floor balcony. Firefighters evacuated the girls from the balcony using a ground ladder, and rescued an elderly occupant from a first floor hallway.

The occupant of a first floor apartment was taken to Benefis hospital for smoke inhalation; another was assessed on scene for minor smoke inhalation, and was taken to Benefis by a friend.

The fire caused extensive damage to the apartment building; there is no word at this time on the dollar amount of damage.

GFFR said the fire started in a first-floor apartment, and was caused by a cigarette that was dropped on portable oxygen tubing.

GFFR received mutual aid from the Malmstrom Air Force Base fire department and the Montana Air National Guard fire department.

2. The second fire happened at about 4:30 am on October 7th at at 820 25th Street North. The fire started in a Ford pickup truck that was stored inside an auto repair shop. Video footage from the shop shows the fire starting in the driver-side engine compartment. The fire fully consumed the pickup.

The shop building was air-tight which did not allow oxygen to enter into the building and fuel the fire; due to the lack of oxygen, the fire became oxygen-deprived and snuffed itself out. Also, with the building being air-tight, very little smoke escaped from the building, so the fire was not noticed until the owner of the building went to the shop at around 11:30 a.m. and saw smoke staining on the exterior of the shop.

When he unlocked the front door of the shop, he found the entire building full of smoke. When GFFR arrived on scene, and the shop doors were opened, oxygen was reintroduced the to building, causing the pickup to once again flare up with small fires.

The building sustained heavy smoke damage and heat damage from the fire. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

3. The third fire was at about 1 a.m. on Tuesday, October 10th in an RV located on a property at the intersection of 8th Avenue South and 6th Street South.

GFFR crews arrived on scene to find the RV fully-involved in fire,and were able to quickly extinguish the fire.

There were no occupants in the RV at the time of the fire, and the RV is considered a total loss. The cause of the fire is undetermined.