The fire on May 29 that killed dozens of pets, including dogs, cats, chickens, cockatiels and other animals was caused by a candle that caused other combustibles to burn, causing over $45,000 in damage to the home, injuring two human residents, as well.

Missoula City Fire Marshall Gordy Hughes said Monday that investigators found it was a candle that caused the fire at the residence on Idaho Street.

"The determination was that it was a candle that was kept burning and was unattended at the time," Hughes said. "The speculation is that one of the animals may have knocked it over, or it actually burned down to the point where it ignited the combustibles around it."

Although Hughes did not have an exact number that perished in the fire, he personally witnessed a number of dead animals.

"I personally viewed 11 felines, five dogs, several chickens, and a couple of parakeets and cockatiels... just a tragic situation, definitely," Hughes said. " The animals all appeared to be in good health and evidently had not been abused or malnourished in any way."

Hughes said the home was crowded with boxes and clutter, along with all the animals, which made fighting the fire complicated.

"I would have to classify this this home as... full," Hughes said. "it was difficult for our crews to navigate once they were inside. There was talk that the couple was in the process of moving, so there were boxes and other things ready to go at the time of the fire."

Hughes took the opportunity to remind homeowners about the dangers of leaving a lit candle unattended.

"If you're burning a candle, use a container that, if it tipped over, the hot wax would be contained," Hughes said. "The best thing I could recommend is a shallow pan with sand in the bottom of it. Something that is non-combustible that would capture the volume of wax that could eventually melt out of it."

Missoula City Fire Marshall Gordy Hughes