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Ronan fire crew thankful it wasn’t worse

RONAN – A disaster was averted on a hot Friday afternoon when a fire broke out in the alleyway between Image Quest and the movie theater. 

“It could have been a lot worse, but thankfully it was just a small fire,” said Ronan Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mark Clary.

Jim Myers was at work when he heard a loud thump from behind his business. He owns Image Quest at 411 Round Butte Rd. When he went outside to see what caused the noise, he saw flames coming from a propane tank. 

He said it looked like the valve had caught fire and the grass around the tank was burning. The flames also burned a wooden fence next to the tank. Myers got out a hose and started pouring water on the flames, and the fire department was called.

Ronan Volunteer Firefighters responded to the scene along with a Ronan police officer and ambulance crew. The firefighters moved quickly, worrying that something could happen to the propane tank as flames continued to move up the wood fence. 

Chief Clary looked for possible dangers as the flames were being doused with water. He thought about the bowling alley and the movie theater several feet away from the flames, and he considered the propane tank connected to a line going into the Mission Valley Crematory. He was thankful that no potential disasters occurred. 

Firefighters looked closely at the burnt ground after the fire, trying to determine how it started. It was thought that maybe someone was still having a bit of fun with fireworks a few days after the Fourth of July or maybe a cigarette hit the ground in just the right spot. Footage from surveillance cameras helped narrow down the cause. “We didn’t see anyone throw anything in the area,” he said.

Chief Clary said after further investigation it was determined that the fire was started after a malfunction with a heating unit for the crematory caused the propane line to ignite the fire.

In other news, Clary said fire danger in Lake County is high and fireworks are no longer allowed. “It’s hot and dry out right now, be extremely careful,” he said.

As far as intentional fires, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Division of Fire closed outdoor debris burning, but the public can still have campfires until otherwise posted, although caution is recommended. It was noted that campfires are limited to three-feet in diameter by Montana State Law, and all campfires should be cool to the touch before being left unattended.


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