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Investigation continues into Sunday’s house explosion and fire in Great Falls

Posted at 3:50 PM, Aug 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-27 23:47:56-04

GREAT FALLS- The Cascade County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate what caused a house to explode and burn early Sunday just south of the Fox Farm neighborhood. At this point, there are no indications of criminal activity or foul play.

Fire crews responded to the fire along Willowdale Lane, which is off of 45th Avenue SW along the Missouri River, just after 2 a.m.

Dozens of people reported feeling the explosion, some as far away as the Riverview/Skyline area on the north side of Great Falls, and the flames were visible for miles.

Across the river, some people’s yards were covered in debris, such as insulation, from the explosion.

“When we went outside, we saw all the insulation on our lawn and then when we looked up, just in front of us, there was this pillar of smoke and fire,” said Annelise Sunwall, who lives across the river.

Russell Taylor lives a few houses away, and he and others quickly jumped into action.

“For some reason, God up there, sent us around the back instead of in the front of the house and all the windows were blowing out. Every window was blowing out,” said Taylor.

He said they were able to get a man and a woman out of the home safely, but he doesn’t consider himself a hero, just a good neighbor.

“They’re exceptional people. I’m just glad I can help him,” said Taylor.

They’re all thankful it wasn’t any worse.

Responding firefighting agencies included Black Eagle, Gore Hill, Montana Air National Guard, Malmstrom Air Force Base, and Great Falls.

Other responders included Great Falls Emergency Services and the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office. The Salvation Army’s food truck was also at the scene to provide water and refreshments to the emergency responders.

Black Eagle Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mike Deshayes said the home is outside of city limits, however, the homeowners had signed a rural contract for city fire protection resources, which is why Great Falls Fire Rescue responded.

Story by Kaley Collins and David Sherman, MTN News