HELENA – East Valley Fire Department Chief Dave Sammons is cautioning people to make sure heat lamps for animals are properly secured after a fire destroyed a Helena Valley saddle shop.
“This is the structure fire season,” said Sammons. “In summer, we have wildland fire season, and now we’re into structure season. Make sure you’ve got your chimney swept and your heat lamps are nice and secure for the outside critters and you know just be smart and be safe.”
Investigators believe an animal knocked over a heat lamp in a chicken coup, which started the fire. From there, it caught a nearby shed of hay bales, which led to the main building catching fire.
Sammons said he believes there was no owner negligence in regards to the fire.
Forty-four firefighters from East Valley Fire Department, Tri-Lakes Fire, West Valley Volunteer Fire Department, Lewis and Clark County, York Volunteer Fire, and Montana City Fire spent more than seven hours fighting the blaze.
A couple of hay bales that were still smoking Monday morning were quickly extinguished.
Sammons said if it wasn’t for the mutual response, his people would probably still be fighting the fire. He is incredibly thankful for their response.
Weather also proved a challenge when fighting the fire due to a sudden cold snap.
“We had doors freezing on the fire engines and we had to come to some pretty creative methods to open those doors without damaging them,” said Sammons.
No injuries to the owners or firefighters were reported, but all of the chickens and several rabbits did perish in the fire.
-John Riley reporting for MTN News