Missoula Fire Department investigators are trying to figure out what caused a dangerous fire over the weekend that destroyed an RV and came close to burning down a building in the Rattlesnake. 

The fire was reported Saturday afternoon on Rattlesnake Drive, with callers reporting the blaze and a possible explosion. 

When they arrived, firefighters discovered an older motorhome completely engulfed in flames, with the blaze already catching several adjacent cars, a carport, and a garage on fire. Crews immediately attacked the burning RV and the other cars, and all the building areas burned outside. Then they could see heavy smoke and fire coming from the eves of a nearby two-story garage. So they moved inside and were able to quickly contain the fire. 

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One of the big challenges was getting water to the fire, with the nearest hydrant nearly 2100 feet away. That required firefighters to use several engines to ferry water back to the fire scene. 

Missoula Fire Battalion Chief Jeff Kroll reports the occupant of the RV was treated at the scene and then taken to St. Patrick's Hospital for evaluation. 

The Saturday fire is another example of the hazards that can exist when a larger vehicle, like a recreational vehicle, is parked adjacent to other cars and close to buildings. While the cause of this fire is still being determined, it also serves as a reminder for people to be careful if they are using an RV for housing, where the use of space heaters in cold weather, and the lack of smoke detectors have been known to create deadly results. 

In this case, there was an estimated $50,000 in damage, but the fire department estimates it was able to save upwards of half-a-million dollars in additional property. 

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