Missoula Rural Fire responded to a structure fire at 6005 MacClay Road in Lolo early Wednesday morning, December 11, that apparently started in the garage and spread to the home itself.

Rural Fire Captain Forrest Brown said the alarm came in just after 3 a.m.

"The owner of the home reported a fire in the garage which was attached to the house," Brown said. "The first crews on the scene that responded from Lolo found heavy smoke showing on arrival. They immediately attacked the fire and were able to effect a good knockdown. Other crews arrived and assisted them, and there was also assistance from the Florence Fire Department, and we appreciate their help this morning."

Brown said the two residents of the rental home were able to escape the blaze.

"On arrival, both male residents of the home and a dog were safely outside, so we had no concern for lifesaving issues," Brown said. "Damage to the garage was moderate, but there was heavy smoke damage throughout the home."

Brown took the opportunity to emphasize the importance of having a working smoke alarm.

"This is a real life example of what happened here this morning," Brown said. "Two residents were sleeping in their home when a fire broke out. They were awakened by both the smoke alarm and the dog. The truth is, the smoke alarm is working while were sleeping, so it's important to make sure the batteries are fresh. Also, anyone who heats their home with wood needs to make sure their stove or fireplace is clean and well-maintained."

Brown said the fire is still under investigation. There was no damage estimate available.

Missoula Rural Fire Captain Forrest Brown