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Investigation continues into Sunday’s house explosion in Great Falls

Posted at 4:13 PM, Aug 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-27 20:28:24-04

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, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

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.

“All of a sudden there was a big explosion,” said Brianna Fisher.

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; 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.

Reporting by Kaley Collins & David Sherman for MTN News

(Sunday 4:17 a.m.) We have received an unconfirmed report from a nearby resident that the two occupants of the home managed to escape without serious injuries.

Several people have told MTN that debris from the explosion has fallen in nearby fields and property.

People posted on the KRTV Facebook page that they heard and felt the explosion across town, even as far away as the Skyline/Riverview area.

  • Christine Adamson Sheldon: “we felt it out on upper river road, had to be huge, i live on solid rock and my house moved, woke my kids up”
  • Suzette Hackmann Flemming: “We are across the field from it. Huge explosion that shook the house and rattled the windows.”
  • Shauna Walton: “I’m on Fox farm road and I felt it….thought it was an earthquake when it jolted me awake”
  • Tiffany Stephen Wilson: “I’m near Sunnyside elementary and I felt my house shake and a loud noise.”
    Sarah Jean: “I thought it was an earthquake or someone ran into my house and I’m 2 miles away!”
  • Mark-Edward Miner: “I was working in my basement when the entire house shook from it on Ridge View Drive. I booked it outside and the house across the river was already gone. That’s insane.”

Great Falls Fire Rescue and several other agencies responded to the fire; we don’t yet know which ones.

We will update you when we get more information.