COLUMBIA FALLS — A family is slowly picking up the pieces after Sunday's fatal house fire near Columbia Falls.
“We’re picking up what we can, like yard tools were in the woodshed, so that’s what we’re salvaging right now.” Christian Watts told MTN News.
Watts said his family home off Hodgson Road near Columbia Falls is a total loss after a fire started Sunday morning, killing his stepdad Jeff Watts and his grandfather Lowell Smith.
“You know as far as we understand it started with a wood stove, it could’ve possibly been a chimney fire, one of the neighbors called me, that’s how I found out about this, they called me and said they seen white smoke coming out of the chimney and then it turned black and then they told me the house was on fire about 30 seconds later, so I got over here as fast as I could." - Christian Watts
Watts said his mother Miriam Watts and grandmother Doris Smith escaped the house with his grandmother jumping out of a second-story window to survive.
“I’m very fortunate that she and my mom were able to get out, so we’re just blessed that they’re alive right now,” added Watts.
The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office said an arson investigation team was initially dispatched to process the scene and the cause of the fire is still being investigated.
Watts believes the the fire was purely accidental.
“I couldn’t imagine my mom or my dad or my grandparents setting fire to their own home with the intentions of killing themselves, so that would be pretty hard for me to process or believe,” said Watts.
Watts said both his stepdad and grandfather were military veterans and he believes they fought until the very end to protect their family.
“Some actual heroes died in this house and as far as the stories my mother told me, my dad died trying to put that fire out, so I love him to death,” said Watts.
A GoFundMe account has been created to help the family; click here if you would like to donate.
(NOVEMBER 15, 2021) Two people died in a house fire near Columbia Falls on Sunday.
The Flathead County Sheriff's Office responded to reports of a fire at Hodgson Road and 8 X Lazy K Road shortly after 10 a.m.
Deputies arrived to find a residence fully engulfed in flames. There were four people inside the house at the time.
Law enforcement officers talked with witnesses at the scene and determined that two males did not make it out of the home and had died.
The names of the two people have not been released at this point.
The witnesses also said they heard an explosion just prior to the structure being engulfed in flames.
Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino says an arson investigation team is responding to process the scene.
Montana Highway Patrol, Columbia Falls, West Valley and Evergreen Fire assisted Flathead County Sheriff’s deputies at the scene.
We will update you if we get more information.