Fire on Walnut Street

Firefighters respond to an early morning fire Monday at a home on the 2300 block of Walnut Street. Fire Marshal Brian Doherty said a fire alarm likely saved the lives of the family living inside.

Photo courtesy Butte fire department

An alarm likely saved the lives of a mom and her two children early Monday when a fire broke out in their mobile home on Walnut Street, destroying the structure, Fire Marshal Brian Doherty said.

Ryanne Davidson, the mother of the two girls, ages 4 and 5, said she awoke sometime after midnight to the sound of a smoke detector alarm.

Half asleep, Davidson said, she stumbled into the kitchen to discover that her range was on fire and that flames were licking up the walls.

“It was immediately obvious that it was too big (to put out),” said Davidson. “It was terrifying. I couldn’t see anything.”

Davidson said she began screaming, woke her daughters and gathered her two dogs, and together they fled through the back door into a fenced yard. There they met with a man who heard Davidson’s screams and called 911. Davidson said the man helped her, her daughters and the two dogs over the fence, which was about 4 feet high.

“We were all barefoot. No coats. No nothing,” Davidson said.

As she and her family fled, Davidson said, she could see flames coming from every exit of the home and heard windows shattering.

Doherty, meanwhile, said firefighters were dispatched around 12:30 a.m. to the home on the 2300 block of Walnut Street.

When they arrived, the family was standing outside of the building, from which smoke and flames were visible. At the rear of the building a utility line began to arc and caught the pole that was holding it on fire, which firefighters extinguished.

The initial fire was put out quickly, Doherty said, but firefighters remained on the scene until about 4 a.m. putting out hot spots

Doherty described the home as a “total loss.” He added that if it weren’t for the smoke alarm, there would be a “high probability” that “we would have found three people dead.” Fortunately, he said, no one was injured in the fire.

Davidson’s husband was not home at the time of the fire, said Doherty, who noted that the cause of the fire was the stove that had been left on.

Doherty said the two children were provided with teddy bears at the scene and the family has been connected with the American Red Cross, which has been housing them in a motel.

Davidson said she plans to stay with her brother-in-law and sister-in-law in Helena.

So far, Davidson said, the only thing she’s recovered from her home is her wallet and some important paperwork.

But the Mining City resident says the pain of her loss has been dampened by the kindness of strangers.

Through social media, she said, people have contacted her to donate clothing, food, pet supplies, cash and other items to her family. In addition, her neighbors on Walnut Street, along with the Uptown bar Party Palace and Ardis & Casey's Classy but Sassy Boutique (a clothing store on Harrison Avenue) have all offered to collect donations on her behalf, Davidson said.

“The Butte community is outstanding,” she said. “They’ve lifted our spirits a whole lot.”

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Business Reporter for The Montana Standard.

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