CHOTEAU — Last month we reported on Choteau mayor Chris Hindoien and his battle with oropharyngeal cancer. After beginning treatments in December of 2020, Hindoien was cleared early this week by his doctor to head back to the office. Tuesday, April 20, was his first day back - and what a day it was.
The day began with a nice breakfast and a few meetings, and when sirens went off around noon, Hindoien knew he was in for a busy day. The explosion and fire that destroyed the Gunther apartment building sent the mayor straight to work at the scene helping any way he could, including directing traffic away from the scene.
"It's a day that will go down in Choteau history, and in my personal history, too, for what a christening back into the job. It truly reminded me how busy I was before this all happened. The lull I experienced when I was recuperating and going through the treatment was immediately replaced by reality. It was a slap in the face of reality and saying ‘Hey Chris, you're back at it, get your game face on and let's go',” he said.
He wrote in a Facebook post on the night of April 20th, “As we see what is happening around the nation, it never ceases to amaze me that 1,680 +/- people can put aside issues and rally for one great cause. There truly is nothing this community cannot take on and handle when we come together.”
Now Hindoien is happy to announce that he is filing for his next four-year term as mayor.
All residents of the apartment building were accounted for by late Tuesday afternoon; two people were taken to Benefis Teton Medical Center in Choteau to be treated for burns and smoke inhalation. There were no reported injuries among emergency responders; sadly, several pets perished in the fire.
HOW YOU CAN HELP: A GoFundMe account has been created; it states: "Opportunity Bank has set up a donation account and is matching the first $2,500 donated and Neighbors Helping Neighbors will match the second $2,500 to help these displaced members of our community." Click here if you would like to help.
Web Extra: Susan James talks about Choteau apartment fire