Over a dozen Missoula City firefighters were called to the scene of a structure fire that occurred in the Reserve Street homeless camp on Friday afternoon.

Captain Corey Garmin provided details to KGVO News later in the afternoon.

“About two o'clock in the afternoon, we got a call for a wildland fire, possibly a campfire that had gotten out of control,” said Captain Garmin. “When crews arrived on scene it was definitely the situation was just that, there was a fire that gotten out of control and it's not really sure how it started. At this point it is still under investigation.”

Garmin said the residents in the camp build whatever shelters they can to have a place to live and sleep.

“There are some makeshift structures down there that some of the transients had built in that area had burned down including some of their belongings and other stuff that they have there,” he said. “It spread to the brush and some of the trees around some of their structures and had burned down to the ground.”

Garmin said the fire department’s response in fighting the blaze caused traffic to back up with heavy Friday afternoon traffic on Reserve Street.

“The crews got on it pretty quickly and put the fire out,” he said. “They kept it from spreading to some of the other campsites and structures and did a good job putting it out. The fire put out a lot of smoke going across Reserve Street and slowed traffic down and with the fire engines all along Reserve Street that were fighting the fire. It definitely slowed afternoon traffic down on Reserve quite a bit for a while there.”

Garmin said it was impossible to determine whose structure burned, due to the fact that all the structures are unstable and prone to fire and also to water damage from the river.

“As far as who's ever structure that was, whoever built that up, they're not even on scene,” he said. “There's no way to really track them down to find out whose it is. It's not really a proper structure. Everything that's built down there is very, very unsafe. And so they're usually not around and it's very difficult to try to track down who actually lived in those places.”

Garmin said there were no injuries reported, and one of the dangers to responding firefighters was the heavy traffic on the Reserve Street Bridge.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.


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