Arson Not Suspected in Columbia Falls House Fire That Killed Two Men

Authorities continue to investigate cause of fire; identities of victims have not been released

By Maggie Dresser
A Flathead County Sheriff's Office vehicle. Beacon file photo

Officials have confirmed that a Columbia Falls house fire that killed two men on Sunday, Nov. 14 at the intersection of Hodgson Road and 8 X Lazy Road was not caused by arson or any criminal activity, Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino said on Thursday.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but authorities suspect a wood stove with nearby flammable objects inside the house could have caused the fire, although it is not confirmed.

The two men died inside the house and authorities interviewed witnesses who said they heard an explosion right before the structure caught fire and became “fully engulfed in flames.”

“The fire department determines whether to call out (arson) investigation teams and we had occupants deceased inside the residence and the fire burned really rapidly,” Heino said. “All of these things called for an investigation … We always want to do due diligence when somebody passes in a fire.”

The names of the deceased have not been released as authorities wait for results from the Montana State Crime Lab.

“It’s a tragic event and it’s never easy in these scenarios for both the responders and the families,” Heino said.

The Sheriff’s Department reminds homeowners to check smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and clean out chimneys to prevent fires, especially during the cold winter months.

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