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Helena apartment building likely uninhabitable after fire

Posted at 4:06 PM, Jan 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-04 20:40:57-05

(UPDATE, 6:30 p.m.)

Helena Fire Department leaders say a fire Friday left an apartment building uninhabitable.

HFD Assistant Chief Mike Chambers said the building in the 400 block of Raymond Street was boarded up after crews put the fire out.

Several callers reported smoke at the building around 11:30 a.m. Friday. When firefighters arrived, they entered all eight residential units to ensure no one was inside.

“That’s always our primary mission,” Chambers said.

Fire crews tried to reach the fire from inside the building, but Chambers said it spread quickly in the shared attic space, then burned through the roof. Firefighters then switched to more defensive tactics, leaving the building and attacking the fire from outside. They eventually had to use ladder trucks and high-pressure hoses to put out the fire from above.

Chambers said the roof and ceilings sustained heavy damage.

“This building’s not going to be able to be occupied,” he said. “There’s going to be some structural issues with the roof. Basically, three-quarters of this building has no roof on it.”

Chambers said it is still too early to determine the cause of the fire.

The building includes eight separate residential units. Chambers said it’s not clear yet how many people were displaced, but at least four of the units currently had residents. At least two were unoccupied. The American Red Cross has been contacted to assist the people displaced.

The West Valley and Montana City Volunteer Fire Departments assisted with the response to the fire. The Helena Police Department helped with traffic control, and a St. Peter’s Health ambulance was on scene in case of injuries.

“It was a real community effort,” said Chambers. “It went as well as it could, but I feel very bad for the individuals that are displaced at this time.”

This is the second serious fire at a Helena apartment building in just over a week, as a building on Broadway was closed off after a fire Dec. 26.


(UPDATE, 2:45 p.m.) Helena Fire Department leaders say a fire Friday likely left an apartment building uninhabitable.

Callers reported the fire in the 400 block of Raymond Street around 11:30 a.m.

The building includes eight separate units. Firefighters entered each one to ensure no one was inside.

HFD Assistant Chief Mike Chambers said the fire spread quickly in the shared attic space, then burned through the roof. They had to use ladder trucks to put the fire out.

The Red Cross has been contacted to assist residents displaced by the fire. Firefighters say it’s still too early to determine the cause.

Helena police and the West Valley and Montana City volunteer fire departments assisted with the response.


HELENA-Multiple fire crews were dispatched to a structure fire in an apartment building on Helena’s south side Friday morning.

Emergency responders received the call of a fire on the 400 block of Raymond St. just before noon.

Dark smoke could be pouring from the building.

West Valley Fire and Montana City Fire were called to provide mutual aid on the fire.

MTN has a reporter on scene and will update you when more information is available