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Residents displaced after fire hits historic Helena home

Structure fire in downtown Helena
Posted at 8:18 AM, May 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-04 10:48:44-04

HELENA — The Helena Fire Department reports several residents were displaced following a Monday morning fire in a historic downtown home.

Firefighters say the home, in the 300 block of State Street, sustained significant damage.

The fire was first reported around 10:45 a.m. when someone on Mount Helena called 911 and reported seeing smoke rising from a building in the downtown area.

A passing bicyclist then provided authorities with a more specific location.

When firefighters arrived at the scene, they found heavy smoke coming out of the home.

Structure fire in downtown Helena
Structure fire in downtown Helena

Fire officials believe the fire started on the second floor – possibly in a bedroom – then spread into the attic.

HFD Assistant Chief Mike Chambers said they were mostly limited to spraying water and attacking the fire from ladder trucks, since they had concerns the roof might have become unstable.

“We did have some crews in there assessing where the fire was,” he said. “They were able to gain access but not maintain fire operations inside. So we’re going on the side of caution and safety for the firefighters.”

Chambers said they don’t believe anyone was inside the home when the fire started. He said no one was injured.

Three family members were displaced, and Chambers said HFD has offered to connect them with assistance through the Red Cross.

Structure fire in downtown Helena

Neighbors identified the historic brick building as the “Lissner Mansion.”

According to Lewis and Clark County heritage preservation officer Pam Attardo, it was built in the 1880s for Marcus Lissner, a pioneer, businessman, civic leader and prominent member of Helena’s early Jewish community.

Chambers said the home’s current owners have had it in their family for several decades, and are only the second family to own it.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

A number of nearby agencies assisted HFD on the fire, including the West Valley-Lewis and Clark County, East Valley, Fort Harrison VA, Montana City fire departments and St. Peter’s Health.