MISSOULA, Mont. - It was a tense afternoon just west of Missoula as firefighters scrambled to knock down flames that destroyed a home at 1865 Nut Hatch Drive, off Mullan Road.
Missoula Rural Fire District officials say they received a call around 2:30 p.m. They say early reports from the calls to Missoula’s 911 center and from neighbors indicated there may have been people inside the home. Crews later verified there was no one inside.
Missoula resident Ralph Sanchelli’s daughter lives next door to the house that burnt down. He says he is glad she is OK.
“It was scary. We just came in from town, and we thought it was our daughter’s house,” Sanchelli said. “We were kind of nervous when we came up to it.”
When the fire initially started neighbor Daryl Dammel rushed to make to make sure no one was inside.
“I first was trying to save anyone inside,” Dammel said. “We thought there were two girls inside, and I saw a cat trying to get out the front window. I ran back to my house and got the shovel and broke the window. Luckily no one was inside.”
The structure fire started a wildland fire that also had to be put out. Firefighters acted quickly and settled the flames before they spread.
According to the U.S Fire Administration there were nine home fire fatalities in Montana in 2016. So far in 2017 there have been five.
The National Fire Protection Association reports cooking is the leading cause of house fires, followed by heaters, an electrical short, smoking inside the house and people intentionally starting the fire.