Posted: Oct 29, 2012 10:52 PM by Claire Anderson - MTN News
Updated: Oct 29, 2012 11:01 PM
GREAT FALLS - The fire that scorched the Pretty Girls building in Great Falls has been deemed "catastrophic" by Great Falls Fire Rescue Chief Randy McCamley.
There was nobody inside the building at the time of the fire, and no reports of any injuries.
The building is located at 1015 24th Street South, behind the Buffalo Saloon; nearby businesses include Hutchinson Electricians, Nelson Insurance, and Falls Windows & Doors.
Crews responded to the fire at about 2 a.m., with an "all call" going out to all available firefighters.
About 35 firefighters responded to the fire.
The "third alarm" fire also triggered mutual aid from the MT Air National Guard, who were called to back-fill one of the GFFR stations.
Deputy City Manager Jenn Reichelt says that people are urged to avoid the area if at all possible, as some side roads are still blocked off as crews continue battling the fire.
She added that this is the largest fire in Great Falls since the Set Free building went up in flames in 2009.
Initial damage estimates have not yet been released.
Click the photos above for larger views.
The City of Great Falls issued the following press release at 9:10 a.m.
This morning at approximately 2 a.m. the City's Fire Rescue Department responded to a fire at the 2400 block of 11th Avenue South. At this time impacted businesses at the location include Rioux Windows & Doors, Hutchinson's Electrical, Nelson's Insurance and Pretty Girls.
Upon arrival the building showed smoke coming out of the eaves and the center of the structure. Three engine companies with 10 personnel responded to the initial call and upon arrival the 2nd Alarm was struck and Tower Ten was called to the scene, which brought 3 more personnel and the aerial truck.
Within twenty minutes of the initial event, the 3rd Alarm was struck and all Fire Rescue personnel were called to respond.
There were approximately thirty-five personnel on site assisting with the fire. A thirty foot perimeter was set up to manage the scene and an initial "exterior fire attack" was used during the event. This meant firefighters stayed out of the building due to the concern that the roof might collapse
The roof did collapse, and at this point a "defensive fire attack" was utilized.
The primary focus became not allowing the fire to spread from the existing structure to nearby buildings.
While there continues to be flames and smoke in the structure, firefighters have been successful in containing and managing the fire.
According to Fire Chief McCamley, "This is a catastrophic fire and approximately 4,000 gallons of water was being used every minute to manage the incident."
The last 3rd Alarm fire in Great Falls was Downtown in the Rocky Mountain Building in 2009.
At this time there are no reported injuries and the cause of the fire is currently under investigation.
Residents should expect to see smoke and flames from the scene for a number of hours and are asked to use alternate routes this morning. While there are no road closures, please use caution and expect delays when near the area.