First part of memorial erected in honor of Butte firefighters killed in historic warehouse explosion

Posted at 7:20 AM, Nov 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-25 16:54:11-05

BUTTE - The explosion at a warehouse in Butte 124 years ago was literally heard across the state.

The Kenyon-Connell Warehouse disaster took the live of 57 citizens and 13 firefighters – wiping out almost all of the department. This week, the first statue of a memorial commemorating that tragedy was delivered to the Butte Fire Department.

“It’s fitting, it’s the right thing to do to recognize these people,” said Butte Fire Chief Jeff Miller.

Belgrade artist Jim Dolan delivered the first piece of the statue, which represents one of the fire department’s horses that survived the blast. The metal sculpture represents that devastation of the explosion.

“I want to make it look like he’s still in shock, because the fire chief got blown apart in front of him and I try to make it look like he’s got ash on him like he still in shock from what just happened,” said Dolan.

The explosions occurred the evening of January 15, 1895, when a fire occurred at a warehouse that was illegal stocked with tons of explosives. Students from the Butte History Club have been pushing for this memorial for years after learning about this tragedy.

“Firefighters are people, great people too and they’re heroes of Butte and we should learn to love our heroes,” said History Club President Ella Wanamaker.

The Kenyon-Connell Warehouse explosion was a disaster of unimaginable proportion. The blast was heard in Willow Creek and the flash was seen as far as Belgrade.

“It’s been 125 years and they finally marked this event where 59 people got killed and, so I think we want to realize is this is a part of Butte’s history,” said Dolan.