A major fire in downtown Kalispell destroyed a home at 520 First Ave. East, Wednesday evening, and damaged a neighboring home at 528 First Ave. East. There did not appear to be any serious injuries. Because the house was one block south of the downtown fire station, the fire was extinguished promptly.
Shortly after 5 p.m., fire fighters battled flames coming out of the south and west facing sides of the home, enveloping the block in smoke and leaving ash floating through the air along Fifth Street. The wall facing the fire on the neighboring home had its siding melted off and windows singed.
Kalispell Assistant Fire Chief D.C. Haas said Wednesday evening the house, a rental property with one apartment on the ground floor and another on the top floor, had several residents and it was unclear how many people were living there, or how the fire originated. One resident of the house, a young man covered in soot, was taken to the hospital by a roommate, Haas said, adding that the home was likely built before formal fire codes were in place.
“Older buildings can burn fast if they’re not caught quickly,” Haas said.
Brian Carter, a volunteer firefighter for the South Kalispell Rural Fire District, said he just happened to see the smoke around 5 p.m. as he headed south on Main Street, and pulled over to radio the fire in to the Kalispell City Fire Department.
“What I saw was heavy flames on the south side of the building,” Carter said. “As soon as I pulled up, a gentleman jumped out of the back window,” he added, pointing to a ground floor window. Three other roommates were standing outside, Carter said.
The rental property is managed by CoRental Property Management. Jamie, a CoRental employee on the scene who asked that her last name not be used, said a man had just moved into the property the previous day.
“He’s not going to have a good day when he comes home, that’s for sure,” she added.
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