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Columbia Falls apartment building catches fire again

by Hungry Horse News
| August 6, 2020 1:00 AM

Columbia Falls firefighters were back on the scene Wednesday morning at an apartment building on Fourth Avenue West that caught fire, again.

Fire Chief Karl Weeks said investigators couldn’t completely rule out a rekindle, but the blaze appeared suspicious, as tenants and the owner had been at the building until after 10 p.m. Tuesday night. They hadn’t seen or smelled any signs of fire or smoke. Residents were in the building trying to sort through items that had been damaged in the previous blaze.

The call came in at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday that the building was blazing, again.

Early videos of the scene taken by neighbors show flames leaping from the apartment building, which initially caught fire Sunday afternoon, leaving about 20 people who lived in the nine-unit apartment without a home.

The neighbors said a Daily Inter Lake paper route driver banged on their door and alerted them to the fire.

Weeks said a fire investigative team from the county was examining the building and an excavator was being brought in to tear it apart so firefighters could make sure it was dead out.

The fire initially broke out about 2 p.m. Sunday and firefighters were able to contain the blaze to just the building itself, as it had the potential to spread to neighboring properties as temperatures were in the 90s and the area hasn’t seen any rain since early July. They dumped thousands of gallons of water on it over the course of about five hours.

Bad Rock and Whitefish responded with mutual aid. Three Rivers Ambulance was also on the scene. There were no injuries.