Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Every fire station in the city responded to a fire and natural gas explosion that occurred on Wednesday afternoon at a structure on South 4th Street West.

KGVO News spoke to Missoula Fire Chief Gordy Hughes on Thursday about the fire and subsequent natural gas explosion.

Every Fire Station in the City Responded to Wednesday's Fire and Gas Explosion

“(Missoula Fire Department) crews were called initially to respond to the smell of natural gas on the outside in the alley there between Fifth Street and Fourth Street in the 1400 block and while the crews and Northwestern Energy looked for the source of the going door to door and conversing the alley there, the structure 1414 South 4th Street West exploded,” began Chief Hughes.

Hughes said it was fortunate that the buildings were empty when the fire and explosion occurred.

Fortunately, There Were No Injuries Reported from the Fire or Explosion

“Fortunately for all parties involved, there was nobody inside the structure, humans or pets,” he said. “The structure ignited then with that subsequent blast with those open gas lines pouring into the structure. We had to respond by emptying all the fire stations in the city and had all our folks respond to that location.”

What took the longest time at the scene was working with Northwestern Energy crews to track down the leaking gas at the structure which saturated the ground and intensified the danger to responders.

Credit: City of Missoula Fire Department
Credit: City of Missoula Fire Department

The Crews Battled the Blaze and Leaking Gas in the Freezing Cold

“Northwestern Energy had a very difficult time locating valves and the ability to isolate where they felt the gas line was leaking underground,” he said. “It took a few hours until a gas line was ultimately secured, but the ground was quite saturated with the natural gas and it was off-gassing for quite some time. In the meantime, we maintain that structure to burn that we didn't experience in the event of trapped gases somewhere else and find an ignition source, which would have ultimately caused similar situations in and around that area.”

Read More: Lifelong Missoula Man Loses Home in Terrifying Explosion and Fire

Missoula Fire Department crews that were on the scene Thursday morning worked to recover any salvageable belongings for the residents whose home was impacted by this structure fire.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation and MFD fire investigators have been assigned to the incident.

No injuries or fatalities were reported.

Looking Back at One of Montana's Most Explosive Fires

The 2013 Lolo Creek Fire burned within 6 miles of Missoula

Gallery Credit: Dennis Bragg

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