Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - An unattended candle apparently was the initial cause of a fire on the main floor of the Wildflower Apartments on Saturday, a fire official said.

KGVO News spoke to Jason Hedahl, Missoula City Fire Department Investigator on Monday, for details about the incident that was called in just before 5:00 a.m. on Saturday.

It was Probably an Unattended Candle that Started the Apartment Fire

“They got a call around I think it was 4:30 in the morning on Saturday,” began Hedahl. “The cops arrived first and the first was able to kick in the door to see if there were any residents inside the first-floor apartment. There was nobody in there, so he shut the door. When the fire department arrived, they were able to break out a window and extinguish the fire from outside basically right by the window.”

Hedahl said the early response to the fire was indeed fortunate for all the residents in the apartment building.

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A Rapid Response Helped Save Several Other Apartments

“They were able to go in and do a primary search and found no residents inside, and they were able to put out the fire,” he said. “It was good that they put it out fast because there was an apartment above and then two next to it. There was a little bit of smoke and soot in the upstairs apartment, but the other two are fine.”

Hedahl said there was a full response from the fire department to the blaze early Saturday morning.

“There were three engines, one ladder truck, and a battalion chief,” he said. “I don't know how many police officers showed up, but there were definitely at least two. There could have been more. When I showed up, there was one, maybe two cops so it was a full structure response.”

The Fire Department says Don't Use an Extension Cord with a Space Heater

Regarding safety as winter approaches, Hedahl provided some important advice, especially for apartment dwellers.

“If you have to use a space heater don't use an extension cord,” he said. “Instead, use a power strip and keep the area clear, making sure that combustibles are at least a couple feet away from the heater, and also don't leave those items unattended.”

While the property damage totaled more than $50,000, Hedahl said due to the rapid-fire department response, the value of the property saved totaled more than $500,000.

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