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Quick-Thinking Kids Report Kalispell Fire

Firefighters were able to contain blaze before it spread to the house

By Justin Franz
Anna Elwood holds her dog, Rocky, as firefighters tend to a fire at 215 Hawthorne Ave. in Kalispell on Jan. 19, 2016. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Two quick-thinking 11-year-old girls helped report a fire last week in Kalispell, giving firefighters a chance to save both a home and a dog inside.

On the afternoon of Jan. 19, Grace Coen and Hannah Gugler were doing their math homework at Grace’s home on Liberty Street on the west side of Kalispell. Shortly after 3 p.m., one of them noticed smoke coming out of their neighbor’s home, according to Grace’s mother, April.

The two girls went outside, smelled smoke and saw flames in the garage of the home owned by Anna and Bob Elwood. The two girls quickly returned inside where Grace called her mother and then 911.

“As soon as we hung up we heard sirens in the distance so we knew help was on the way,” Grace said.

According to a press release, an individual driving past the home also reported the fire.

By the time firefighters arrived, smoke was pouring out of the garage. However, firefighters were able to contain the blaze before it spread to the rest of the home. No one was inside the home at the time of the fire.

A dog inside the home was apparently hiding. Firefighters found the dog, named Rocky, when he came out of his hiding spot soon after the blaze was contained. The dog appeared unharmed.

The Kalispell Fire Department said the fire caused $30,000 in damage and was most likely caused by an electrical problem. Firefighters from Kalispell, West Valley and Evergreen all responded to the blaze.

Grace said she was glad to hear that the Elwoods and their dog were safe and that she had always wondered what it would be like to call 911.

“And after all of this happened, we went right back to doing our math homework,” she said.