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Fatal house fire rocks small Western Montana town

Posted at 5:03 PM, Jan 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 19:03:49-05

DRUMMOND — A small Montana community is coming together following a tragedy where a junior high school student died in a fatal house fire near Hall on Thursday.

Early Thursday morning, the Valley Fire Department responded to a house fire in Hall, that claimed the life of a Drummond Junior High School student and sent one woman to a Seattle hospital for burn treatment.

"He will be greatly missed by his classmates, and by all the staff. The one thing I will say that I don't think will identify him is that he always had a smile on his face, and he was a ray of sunshine in our community,” Drummond Public Schools Superintendent Christina Barbachano said.

The family has asked to remain anonymous.

Other family members were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, “there are surviving siblings, and there is definitely a push to make sure they are taken care of as well,” Barbachano told MTN News.

Barbachano says the tragic incident will impact the community for decades and that the school district is offering grief counseling and other support for the students.

"This kiddo had a very special place in a lot of people's hearts here on campus,” Barbachano said. “A lot of people loved him just like they would have loved their own. It's a small school, it's like a family, so it's felt like losing a family member."

Barbachano says one local church organized a clothing drive, which you can make donations to at the Drummond Public Library. She added everyone is stepping up.

She says it will take time to recover, but the school will do whatever it takes to provide support.

"The outpouring of love and support and resources being offered by our surrounding community, as well as within our community is incredibly appreciated,” Barbachano said.

“I know that the family is very appreciative of that love and support, and they want me to extend their gratitude. I'm so proud to live in a community and serve in a community that is as generous and caring as this one,” Barbachano added.

Granite County Sheriff Scott Dunkerson has confirmed the fire was likely caused by a small electric heater.

Drummond school officials are asking that people hold off bringing donations to the school as they don't have room to store it.

They will notify the community once they can accept the donations.