HELENA — The Helena Fire Department responded to an apartment fire along the 1000 block of 11th Avenue at around 11 p.m. on Tuesday, September 28.
Fire crews found one of 13 apartments "well involved" in fire, extending from the first story up the front of the building. Initial responding units contained the fire and rescued two occupants from the second story above the fire.
Two people were taken to a hospital by EMS for smoke inhalation and are in stable condition, according to HFD. Around 20 people were displaced as a result of the fire. The cause of the fire is being by the Helena Interagency Fire Investigation Team.
The 11th Avenue fire is the second of its kind in September, with a fire at the Tower Hill Apartments displacing more than 30 people earlier this month. The American Red Cross of Montana is offering assistance for those who were forced to evacuate their home.
American Red Cross of Montana responded to the 11th Avenue fire around 12:30 a.m. to provide care and financial assistance for those displaced. Susan Hawthorne, the Lewis & Clark Action Team Leader, was at the scene.
“Initially with big apartment fires, we tried to open a shelter initially, but because it was so early in the morning and we didn't necessarily have all the volunteers that were able to come in and assist with me, we elected to decide to start client casework immediately, so at 1:30 in the morning we could get somebody into a hotel that needed to get dressed and get ready to go to work the next day, and so that was the decision,” said Hawthorne.
The most important thing for the organization was getting the residents in a safe place to stay.
"The market is tight for rentals, and when you become displaced then you're pretty much homeless. So then it's like when we step in and say we're going to provide and financial assistance so that you can have a safe place to go, and most of the times they're able to go into a hotel for a few days,” said Hawthorne.
Mutual aid response included crews from Fort Harrison, Montana City, West Valley Fire Departments, as well as St. Peter’s EMS, Helena Police Department, and Lewis & Clark County Sheriff’s Office.