West Yellowstone, Mont., firefighters and other agencies contained a blaze Tuesday morning that burned down two homes and a commercial building.
A police officer saw the fire at about 2:19 a.m. in the 600 block of Parkway A, according to a statement issued by West Yellowstone Chief of Police Scott Newell.
The fire had engulfed one building and was starting to spread when officials got to it. Hebgen Basin Rural Fire Department and West Yellowstone officers evacuated residents in the area, Newell said.
The fire was contained around 9 a.m. Tuesday. The cause is still under investigation.
Firefighters came from Island Park (Idaho), Big Sky and Old Faithful fire departments to fight the early morning blaze. It burned a mechanic shop for SeeYellowstone.com, which provides tours of Yellowstone National Park, and burned two residential trailers.
Diana Morales, manager at Madison Valley Bank, said she is close to one of the families who lost their trailer.
She said one account has been setup at Madison Valley Bank for people to donate to the mother, father and their four kids, ranging from 2 to 13 years old. Another account will be set up Wednesday morning for a man who also lost his trailer in the fire. Those who are interested in donating can call the bank at 406-646-4000.
Morales said she was in Bozeman on Tuesday afternoon to shop for the family because they left their home with “the clothes on their backs and that’s it.”
“We’re accepting any kinds of donations because they lost everything,” Morales said.
She said the family was asleep when the fire started. Morales said the officer who spotted the fire ran over to the house and started banging on the door to get everyone out.
“Luckily no one was injured. It was fortunate that the officer was driving by at that time,” she said.
She said she has been trying to get in touch with another man who lost his trailer to help him out as well.
Jamie Cosson lives next door to the mechanic shop that burned. Her roommate woke up in the middle of the night and started yelling “fire” when she saw the blaze next door. Cosson saw the flames through her dining room window.
“We thought our house was on fire because of the orange glow coming through the window,” she said.
Then she saw an officer knocking on a neighbor’s door and knew she had to leave her house.
Cosson said there were multiple explosions that sent pieces of propane tanks through the air. She said she felt shockwaves from the booms. At one point, she jumped in her car and moved farther away from the fire.
“We were very scared that, with any explosion, debris was going to hit our roof and ignite our house, but thankfully the wind was blowing the other way,” she said.
She said she was glad everyone is safe and that the people in West Yellowstone are rallying behind those affected by the incident.
“It was a frightening experience, but it could have been a lot worse,” Cosson said.