Fire Erupts Inside the Smoke Jumper Building in Missoula
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Just before 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 3, multiple agencies rushed to the Missoula Aerial Fire Depot at the Missoula airport in response to a fire alarm at the facility.
Agencies responding included the Missoula City Fire Department, Missoula Rural Fire Department, as well as Missoula Airport fire and police personnel.
KGVO News spoke to City of Missoula Fire Chief Gordy Hughes who provided details.
All Available Agencies Responded to a Fire at the Aerial Fire Depot at the Airport
“Last night crews from three agencies in the (Missoula) valley responded to the Forest Service Aerial Fire Depot campus portion of the airport grounds,” began Chief Hughes. “The building is known as the Smoke Jumper building and the fire occurred on the second floor of the loft, where the jumpers keep their parachutes and equipment.”
Hughes said airport police and fire confirmed that there was a working fire on the second floor at the Aerial Fire Depot. The initial response was rapidly upgraded to a structure fire response which led to a second alarm, which Hughes said ‘cleared the barns’.
Chief Hughes said the Response 'Cleared the Barns' of all Firefighting Equipment
“We had response immediately from the Airport Public Safety Office, which involves their aerial firefighting apparatus on scene along with units from the Missoula Rural Fire Department and the City Fire Department,” he said. “We ‘cleared the barns’ with all of our equipment, so they say, and everyone mustered up a quick response.”
The upgraded response led to the dispatching of all five Missoula Fire Department stations, an ambulance from Missoula Emergency Services and other resources supplied by the Missoula airport. Hughes said there was an aggressive response to the blaze which led to containment within about 20 minutes after the first crews arrived.
Hughes said the Rapid Response Kept the Damage to only about $45,000
“Fortunately, there were no injuries,” he said. “The extent of damage would amount in the neighborhood of $30,000 to $45,000. After a renovation and rebuild will take place, we estimate it at that range. Property values saved? I would say we're looking at a structure with equipment upwards of a half a million dollar range. So again, really great coordinated response by all three agencies and I can't say enough for the folks on the front lines doing that work.”
Hughes said the cause of the fire turned out to be a heating appliance in the office space on the second floor which ignited combustibles around the heating unit.
The building was unoccupied at the time of the fire.
Looking Back at One of Montana's Most Explosive Fires
Gallery Credit: Dennis Bragg