A fire that began on a propane grill on July 17 tore through a Montana City home, causing no injuries but destroying the home and prompting a massive firefighting response that prevented the blaze from becoming a wildfire.
According to a press release from Montana City Volunteer Fire Department Public Information Officer Chaya Semple, crews responded to an 8:30 p.m. report of a "structure fire high in the wildland-urban interface with flames encroaching on wildland fuels."
"Before firefighters were even able to leave the station, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch reported [that] the homeowner informed them the two-story residence was fully engulfed in flames. Clancy VFD, Eagle Ambulance and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office were automatically paged to assist."
Montana City Volunteer Fire Department Chief Lyn Stimpson wrote in a text message that the house was in a sparsely developed area of the northern Elkhorn Mountains, which extend into the southeast reaches of Montana City, north of Strawberry Butte.
Because of the threat of wildfire, Semple wrote, Stimpson requested mutual aid from beyond Jefferson County. Departments from Baxendale, Canyon Creek, East Valley, Lewis & Clark County, West Valley and Tri-Lakes responded to the fire and were released after midnight, according to the press release, while local departments remained on scene to mop up and check for hot spots throughout the following day.
Semple wrote that "the fire started while the homeowner was cooking dinner on a propane gas grill positioned near the house. The homeowner briefly went into the house and returned to find flames out of control."
Poor cellphone service in the area delayed the homeowner in reporting the fire, Semple wrote.
In the release, the department warned people to move grills away from homes and flammable materials, not to leave grills unattended, and to keep a fire extinguisher or hose nearby when grilling.
"With record drought and very extreme fire conditions occurring, it is vital [that] residents prepare their homes for wildfire. All homes in Montana City are located within the [wildland-urban interface] with flammable fuels nearby," Semple wrote, adding that information on how to protect a home from wildfire is available at montanacityfire.org under "Protect Your Home."