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Two Polson homes lost to early morning fire

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POLSON – Smoke and flames forced two Polson families out into the cold on the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 19, just before they lost their homes to fire and smoke damage. No people or animals were injured in the fire.

“We lived there for over 40 years, and I’m going to live there again,” Rud Knudsen said as he watched firefighters try and save his home, the second one to burn. “That is where God put us.” 

Emergency dispatch services received the call just before 6:30 a.m. Heavy smoke and flames were pouring from inside the home on the 500 block of Third Street West. Betty Martin was inside the home when the alarm from a smoke detector woke her up. She fled the house before firefighters arrived. Flames completely engulfed the home as she stood outside.

While the cause of the fire is believed to be accidental, the incident is still under investigation by the Polson Fire Department with the assistance of the Montana State Fire Marshal’s Office. Mutual aid engines from Polson Rural Fire, Finley Point Fire and Ronan Fire Department were dispatched to assist Polson Fire with fire suppression and salvage operations. 

According to Polson Fire Department officials, heavy fire conditions from the original structure caused the fire to spread to a second home next door. Rud and Terresa Knudsen live at the second home. Law enforcement knocked on their door and asked them to evacuate. They left the home with their son Isaac Knudsen. The family watched from outside as the home they had lived in for more than 40 years filled with smoke. 

“That’s the building I grew up in,” Isaac said as thick gray smoke rolled from under the eves of the roof and out the windows of the attic. “That’s my room that just burned down.”

Firefighters battled the fire until late into the afternoon. After the fire was suppressed, both homes were deemed uninhabitable and considered total losses. Estimates by officials put the total damage around $420,000 for all structures, which also includes an adjacent garage to the north that received minor exterior damage.

On Monday afternoon, Rud and Terresa were pulling up the carpet in the home and trying to dry things out to salvage some of their things. Terresa found a pair of wool socks that made it through the fire. Most of the things were ruined by water and smoke damage. They are waiting for a decision from the neighbor’s insurance company and hope to rebuild their home. 

Before smoke filled the home, Terresa retrieved her camera and some of the photos stored on it. She said she wished she had been able to save family photos. The family is living at Apostolic United Pentecost Church in Polson, which is where Rud is the pastor.  


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