Attorney: Bozeman Explosion Cleanup Could be Delayed

By Beacon Staff

BOZEMAN – A Billings attorney said Friday that “liability issues” could delay the cleanup of debris from the March 5 explosion in downtown Bozeman that killed a 36-year-old woman and destroyed several buildings.

Kevin Funyak, who is representing the owner of the building that housed the Montana Trails Gallery, which was destroyed in the blast, said everyone must “have the opportunity to be there when anything is moved because once it is moved, it can lose its value as evidence.”

The explosion killed Tara Reistad Bowman, crumbled four buildings and caused significant damage to several nearby businesses.

“To one party, it may appear to be a pile of rubble, but to a trained eye, it could hold the key to liability issues,” Funyak said. “Obviously the interest is in getting it cleaned up as soon as possible, but you never know what’s in the piles.”

The source of the leak was determined to be a faulty gas service line to the gallery, but what caused the line to be compromised and how the gas ignited is still unknown. The answer to those questions will figure prominently in insurance and liability settlements.

Debbie Arkell, Bozeman’s public works director, described the situation as “very frustrating.”

“Not so much because just the street is closed,” she said, “but because it is impacting the businesses there.”

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