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Butte police are conducting an investigation after a 49-year-old homeless woman caught fire Monday afternoon near the Galena Street post office.

Undersheriff George Skuletich said police and firefighters were dispatched around 4:30 p.m. to the scene, where officers spoke with the woman and a witness, a 55-year-old Butte man.

The man told officers the woman inadvertently caught herself on fire after lighting "some twigs" as a warming fire, Skuletich said, while the woman told officers that someone may have set her on fire.

Skuletich said both the woman and the man appeared to be intoxicated and had trouble communicating, making it difficult for officers to discern what had taken place.

Skuletich said the incident is being treated as a potential crime until proven otherwise

According to Fire Marshal Brian Doherty, the woman was lying on the ground when firefighters arrived and initially was conscious but not speaking. She sustained peeling, blistering burns on her back and left ear and her hair on the left side of her head was burned, the fire marshal said.

Doherty said firefighters cut away her clothing and applied a dressing to her wounds, and she was transported to St. James Healthcare. Later, the woman was taken to the University of Utah Health Care’s Intermountain Burn Center in Salt Lake City, Skuletich said.

Also at the scene was a small “rubbish fire,” possibly a warming fire, Doherty said, which fire fighters quickly contained.

Doherty said he believes one else was injured during the incident.


Business Reporter

Business Reporter for The Montana Standard.

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