Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - New Year’s Day brought a report of an explosion and fire on an island in the Clark Fork River off California Street with a swift response from crews from the Missoula City Fire Department.

KGVO News spoke to Brad Davis, Assistant Chief with the Missoula Fire Department about the incident that occurred in the late afternoon hours on January 1.

Missoula Firefighters Respond to Explosion and Fire

“We had a dispatch to an explosion with flames and smoke just off the island down there on the Clark Fork River off of California Street,” began Chief Davis. “So we went down there with a couple of crews down and found a large 16 by 16-foot fire kind of in a pit there on the island with unknown stuff burning.”

Chief Davis said firefighters had to use extreme caution in fighting the fire since there were a number of small explosions in which one firefighter just missed being struck by flying debris.

One Firefighter Narrowly Missed being Struck by Flying Debris

“It sounded like that was kind of what the original dispatch was for an explosion, and when some of our first responders started arriving on the scene I think some more stuff was in there and kind of popping and exploding and kind of popping some debris and hazards out of that fire area,” he said. “Fortunately, although while that was happening it nearly hit one of the first responders, but nobody was hit or injured with anything so it kind of caught some people off guard. Those explosions are always a little concerning.”

Chief Davis said his crews are well-trained in safety measures when dealing with such a volatile fire.

Chief Davis said only One Engine was Needed to Extinguish the Fire

“It was a little bit concerning with the explosions because you never know what those types of rubbish fires or garbage fires and what might be in there and kind of have to have your heads up so anything pops or flies out of there or anything like that,” he said. “We had to kind of approach them with some caution and a little bit of distance and that's what our crews were able to do and nobody was injured or hurt. And they were able to extinguish the fire with just one hose line from one fire engine.”

Chief Davis said there were no injuries reported and the investigation into the cause of the fire is still underway.

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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