Even though the damage was slight and limited to a few hundred dollars, Missoula Rural Fire officials said a quick response to the old Bonner Mill complex on Tuesday morning probably saved several million dollars in damage.

Captain Ron Lubke said the call came in at 7:34 a.m.

“We were dispatched to a possible structure fire at the Northwest Paint, Incorporated building on Bonner Mill Road in the old Stimson Mill Site,” said Lubke. “The first engine reported a fire in the ground up next to the building near a large gas service line. Fortunately, the crews were able to make a very quick fire attack. Although the fire had reached the building, they prevented any serious damage to the building itself and kept it primarily to grass, sawdust and debris.”

Lubke said there are several industrial businesses at the mill site.

“The Northwest Paint building itself is a very large wooden structure, one of the old original mill buildings,” he said. “It was probably built out of lumber that was over 100 years old, so had the fire extended into that building, it could have spread very rapidly. That building is large enough that it would have threatened many other buildings within the complex. I’m not certain that we could put an estimate on the property saved, but I would estimate several million dollars would be a conservative estimate, just based on the size of the buildings, the number of jobs in those buildings and the amount of product that are in those buildings.”

Lubke said the first engine reached the fire in about six minutes, and no injuries were reported.


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