A weary Missoula City Fire Chief Jason Diehl said Thursday evening that the fire at Vantage Villa apartments was one of the largest the city has seen in many years, so much so, that officials declared a general alarm just after arriving on scene.

"A general alarm was called on this fire," Diehl said. "A general alarm causes an automatic dispatch of pretty much all our additional units, as well as the Missoula Rural Fire District. We called in all of our off-duty firefighters to respond to the scene and to staff our reserve engines. We did this because, while we were fighting this fire, other emergencies were going on throughout town.We probably has between 40 and 45 guys fighting this fire."

Diehl said the fire started on an upper floor of the apartment complex and spread quickly throughout several other units.

"The fire started on the second level in an apartment unit and spread to the third level and another apartment unit above it," Diehl said. "Then, once it got up into the attic space, it really made a run on us in either direction."

Diehl complimented his crews as they battled the multi-level blaze.

Our crews did a great job," Diehl said. "They did a trench cut in the roof and pretty much stopped it, and now they're just mopping it up, to make sure its out for good."

Diehl said that no one was injured in the fire, and that the Red Cross and the Missoula Housing authority were working together to house the displaced tenants. He said firefighters will remain on the scene overnight.

"We're going to secure the building for the night, we'll be on it all night, and then hopefully tomorrow morning our fire investigators will be able to get in there and finish their investigation," Diehl said.

Diehl said damage to the apartment complex was extensive.

"It's substantial," Diel said. "There's heavy fire damage to at least six apartment units, and then there's multiple apartments below it that have some severe water damage."