On Sunday at around 3:30 a.m., an employee at a casino in Belgrade just off of Jackrabbit Lane was walking out to his car when he noticed the next-door business, a soon-to-open car wash, was on fire.
"I was leaving work and I looked across the way and I heard what kinda sounded like a fire and then a couple poppings. It was loud enough I had to take my earbuds out," said Montee Kerr, who works at Jackpot Casino.
Kerr made the call to 911 as soon as he saw see flames visible from Rocky Mountain Car Wash, a family-run business that was slated to open in June.
Several agencies responded to the call on Jackrabbit Lane, just south of I-90, including the Central Valley Fire District (CVFD) and the Bozeman Fire Department. "Belgrade Police Department arrived on scene to find fire and smoke visible from the structure. Reported that back. Our units arrived on and obviously began fire suppression efforts," said CVFD Fire Marshal Bruce Hennequin.
Henniquin said it took just under an hour to get the fire under control and a few hours to fully extinguish the flames, which were visible from I-90.
CVFD and the Belgrade Police Department are investigating the scene and collecting evidence; the cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
There were no reported injuries.
The future Rocky Mountain Car Wash was left devastated by the fire. Taylor Webb, chief of operations for Rocky Mountain Car Wash, posted this statement on Facebook:
"Hello Everyone, my name is Taylor and I am an owner and Chief of Operations at Rocky Mountain Car Wash. Our family is devastated by this loss. We are a family owned and operated business that has been building/operating car washes for 20 years. This project was on track and scheduled to open as planned in 4-6 weeks. The firefighters did a fantastic job and law enforcement is currently investigating this fire. If I know one thing about this project and our family - it is that we will get this rebuilt and provide a great service to this awesome community. We are so thankful for our contractors that have put so much work into this project and can’t thank them enough for getting this far. WE WILL REBUILD."
As for Kerr, who made the initial call for service - he told MTN News he was amazed at how quickly the fire grew.
"It was a small little fire. I was contemplating running back into the Jackpot, grabbing a fire extinguisher, but I’ve got a wife and kids at home. By the time I called the cops and when I took that video was probably 10 minutes. I mean, that thing went up like crazy," he said.