GREAT FALLS — A man has been arrested in connection with last month's fire at the Gunther apartment building in Choteau.
Teton County Sheriff Keith Van Setten says that, according to charging documents, Dennis Jackson tampered with a propane tank and then lit a flame, leading to the explosion and fire that destroyed the building.
The fire resulted in two residents being treated at a hospital for smoke inhalation, displaced all 20 of the residents of the building, and claimed the lives of several pets.
The investigation was done by the Montana State Fire Marshal and a private investigator from an insurance agency.
Susan James, manager of the apartment building, said of the suspect, “I talked to him quite a bit and been in his apartment a lot until the last month, and it’s just like a shock. I wouldn’t have expected that.”
"I got a bunch of mixed emotions about it. I feel like there’s a little bit of closure, but I’m pretty upset too because a lot of people lost all their belongings and stuff. It hurts really bad, it’s just something that shouldn’t have happened," James said of the criminal charges being filed.
She said on Monday that of the seven residents who were displaced by the fire with nowhere to go, three of have moved out of the state, two continue to stay in big sky motel, and one situation remains unknown.
Jackson, 55, is facing charges of arson and criminal endangerment, and is scheduled to make his initial court appearance on Tuesday; we will update you as we get more information.