MISSOULA – A fire that destroyed several vehicles at an apartment complex in Missoula’s South Hills caused an estimated $500,000 in damage.
The Missoula Fire Department was called out at 2:23 p.m. Thursday for reports of a vehicle fire that had spread to other vehicles under a large carport at 620 Whitaker Dr.
Battalion Chief Dave Wolter said responding units saw a growing column of smoke rising from the area and additional crews were called to the scene.
Wolter said crews arrived to find “a very large fire" that was burning eight vehicles, two carports, and an attached storage building. Flames were also seen on the outside of two large, three-story apartment buildings.
The fire also burned overhead powerlines which caused arcing lines that slowed access to the scene. The fire department called out a second alarm to bring additional firefighters and engines to the scene to help control the rapidly changing fire.
Wolter said crews began to extinguish the fire and evacuate people from the apartment buildings with help from the Missoula Police Department. The bulk of the fire was knocked down within 30 minutes, according to Wolter. Fire crews remained on the scene over the next couple looking for hot spots.
Two apartments and a laundry room had damage that extended into the interior of the rooms.
Officials say nearly a dozen residents were displaced after the fire and two people suffered minor burns.
The cause of the blaze has not been determined. A witness told MTN News that he heard explosions prior to the fire.