MILES CITY – A fire destroyed half a city block in historic downtown Miles City Monday while gusting winds made fighting the blaze difficult.
“The only building left standing on the block is Big Sky Pharmacy,” Jim Robinson of Miles City told The Billings Gazette.
The fire was believed to have started at about 8:30 a.m. in the basement of a vacant store being remodeled into a bar.
By noon, flames had spread west to engulf Family Floral; the Copper Thimble, a fabric store; Good Things, a gift store; and John Stockhill Jewelers. To the west, the fire burned the Cellar Casino and Creme Beauty Salon. By 12:30 p.m. the casino’s back wall had collapsed, the Miles City Star reported.
Big Sky Pharmacy was evacuated as were businesses across the street, including Stockman Bank.
Bank employees put artwork and other valuables in the vault and allowed the jewelry store to move its inventory to the vault.
Shaun Lockie has a Farmer’s Insurance Group office on the block and began clearing his office when he smelled smoke. Then he helped the Cellar move furniture out.
“We do our best to get everything out we can,” he said. “It was nice to see everyone pitching in and helping out. It’s hard to believe it’s happened.
“It is what it is. You’ can’t change it,” Lockie said. “As long as no one is seriously hurt. …You’ve got to pick up and keep moving forward.”
Fire crews from Miles City, Custer County, Terry, Forsyth and Glendive fought the fire, which was fanned by winds gusting up to 30 mph.
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.