When Missoula's Assistant Chief of Police says to never leave a small fire, you should listen, because it happened to him.Assistant Chief Scott Hoffman was burning some yard debris at his home on Mockingbird Lane, just off Upper Miller Creek Road at about 9:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. He made sure the fire was out, and at about 1:00 p.m. went inside to make a sandwich. When he came out again, the wind had blown embers over to a wooden barn, setting it on fire.

Missoula Fire Captain Dean Johnson said the call came in to 9-1-1 at about 1:15 p.m.

"We were en route to do some training on the river when the call came in of a barn on fire," Johnson said. "We responded along with Missoula Rural Fire and found a trailer and the structure fully involved. There was a trailer and an outbuilding, and inside there was a fiberglass boat that has been completely burned."

Johnson said there was a large number of fire, police and sheriff's department vehicles at the scene.

"We had two city engines and a ladder truck, two rural engines and a rural water tender," Johnson said. "Missoula police and sheriff's personnel handled the traffic."

Missoula Fire Department Captain Dean Johnson

Homeowner Mary Hoffman said she got the call from her husband while she was at work.

"My husband was burning a small wood pile, and evidently the wind kicked up and brought an ember to a barn behind us that had our boat inside," Hoffman said. "Our camping trailer caught on fire along with some lawn furniture, but thankfully, even though my husband was home, nobody got hurt."

Hoffman has advice to pass along to anyone doing outdoor burning.

"Stay with it as long as there's a possible chance that it's still lit," Hoffman said. "The wood pile was very small, and it was just some white ash, there weren't any flames at all. He left for a very short moment, and a lot can happen in a very short moment."

Even when you're the assistant chief of police.

Mary Hoffman