An assistant fire chief at the Missoula Rural Fire District tells NBC Montana that fire hydrants near the two house fires on Daytona Loop in Milltown on Wednesday are low-powered. Firefighters heavily relied on water from a higher-powered hydrant across a highway. He tells NBC Montana that there’s no telling if the outcome would have been different if the old system near the homes had been more powerful, and that firefighters do what they can with their resources.
He tells NBC Montana that the system has reportedly had upgrades, though apparently no increases to the power at the hydrants.
Several other factors made the efforts difficult, such as downed power lines, and popping ammunition in one of the homes.
At least one of the homes was still smoldering when NBC Montana went to the scene on Thursday. The owner tells NBC Montana that he lived in the house for about 30 years, and he’s surprised the actual structure itself is still standing after the blaze.
The neighborhood had rallied together to help fight the fires, including one former fire fighter in town to attend his nephew Chance Geery’s funeral. Geery died Monday after being struck by a car. Geerey’s uncle helped neighbors spray down the flames, and keep the damage down as much as possible.
Fire officials say the blaze started in one house, and then spread to a next door home. Two firefighters were reportedly injured. One reportedly suffered tendon damage to a hand, and another reportedly may have injured a nerve. Both were seen at a local hospital and released.
No dollar estimates of damage have been released at this time, and an investigation into the incident is ongoing.