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Family picking up the pieces after fatal Columbia Falls house fire

C Falls House Fire
Fatal Columbia Falls Fire
Columbia Falls Fatal House Fire Map
Posted at 4:40 PM, Nov 16, 2021

COLUMBIA FALLS — A family is slowly picking up the pieces after Sunday's fatal house fire in Columbia Falls.

“So, we’re picking up what we can like yard tools were in the woodshed so that’s what we’re salvaging right now.” Christian Watts told MTN News.

Watts said his family home off Hodgson Road in Columbia Falls is a total loss after a fire started Sunday morning killing both his stepdad Jeff Watts and his grandfather Lowell Smith.

“You know as far as we understand it started with a wood stove, it could’ve possibly been a chimney fire, one of the neighbors called me, that’s how I found out about this, they called me and said they seen white smoke coming out of the chimney and then it turned black and then they told me the house was on fire about 30 seconds later, so I got over here as fast as I could." - Christian Watts

Watts said his mother Miriam Watts and grandmother Doris Smith escaped the house with his grandmother jumping out of a second-story window to survive.

“I’m very fortunate that she and my mom were able to get out, so we’re just blessed that they’re alive right now,” added Watts.

Fatal Columbia Falls Fire

The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office said an arson investigation team was initially dispatched to process the scene and the cause of the fire is still under investigation. Meanwhile, Watts believes the cause of the fire was purely accidental.

“I couldn’t imagine my mom or my dad or my grandparents setting fire to their own home with the intentions of killing themselves, so that would be pretty hard for me to process or believe,” said Watts.

Columbia Falls Fatal House Fire Map

Watts said both his stepdad and grandfather were military service veterans and he believes they fought until the very end to protect their family.

“Some actual heroes died in this house and as far as the stories my mother told me my dad died trying to put that fire out, so love him to death,” said Watts.

A gofundme page dedicated to the Watts family can be found here.