GARDINER — Four businesses were burning in downtown Gardiner on July 14.
The fire was ruled accidental with Park County investigators saying it started in the kitchen of the Two Bit Saloon and quickly spread.
MTN News checked back in with the community to show us that they are still banding together to help those who lost everything.
It’s destruction that Gardiner has not experienced in decades.
Yet still, a week later, the community of Gardiner is stepping up, helping those displaced in the fire in every way that they can.
“It doesn’t even look like the same town anymore,” said Leslie Daher, who has lived in Gardiner for years.
To Daher, secretary at the Gardiner Community Church, watching history become rubble and ash was almost too much.
“There are just generations of memories being made in those buildings and generations of businesses because businesses have changed throughout the years,” Daher said.
Two Bit Saloon, the Yellowstone Raft Company, Rosie’s Bistro, Red’s Blue Goose Saloon -- some of which had been there since Gardiner was originally founded -- were destroyed.
But what happened after a two-day fire that displaced more than 60 people is what’s catching Daher’s breath now.
“Red Cross got involved and they came down,” Daher said. “The clothing, people keep offering clothing, even though I think they all have enough clothing at the moment.”
Hotels donated towels and sheets while other restaurants donated food and clothes.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” Daher said. “People are just so generous and you don’t think people would want to support this little old town.”
Others turned online and as of July 22, the Gardiner Fire Relief Fund for Small Businesses raised more than $7,000 selling Gardiner t-shirts.
Rosie’s Bistro also started a fundraiser, bringing in $3,000 for seven employees. And Two Bit Saloon has done the same, raising more than $27,000 for the employees that were where it all started.
“It’s so wonderful to know that this little old town has such a global reach,” Daher said.
The Yellowstone Community Fund, the Gardiner Food Pantry and Gardiner Chamber are also hard at work, collecting donations.
In just a week, each person displaced has a place to stay.
“I just feel like there’s a good future for Gardiner even though this is a really tragic end to that part of history,” Daher said.
While the smoke rose for days, so did the people and businesses -- and they still are.
Those who are raising money in Gardiner do warn that a scam was found to be also collecting money for displaced employees.