At approximately 11:07 AM on February 19, 2014, the Big Sky Fire Department was dispatched to the report of a structure fire at 545 Grouse Ridge Road, south of Big Sky. The caller stated that there was a fire in the garage and that there was explosions coming from that area.
The location of the fire was on a steep, unplowed mountain road that required the first arriving engine to back up the roadway to gain access to the scene. The next two arriving fire apparatus became stuck on the road, causing an initial inability to bring water to the scene (there are no fire hydrants in the area).
Firefighters arrived to find that the a large fire had extended from the garage area into the rest of the home itself, with flames and smoke showing from the second story eves. Once the road was cleared, water tenders had to back up the roadway, one at a time, further hampering the delivery of water to the scene. With the lack of an adequate water supply, and there being no automatic fire sprinklers in this home, the fire grew unabated despite the efforts of firefighters. The home is a total loss.
An investigation of the incident by the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office and Big Sky Fire revealed that an occupant of the home was spray painting a vehicle in the garage in the presence of a ceramic heater. When the occupant attempted to refill the paint canister, the fumes were ignited by the heater, causing the fire. The occupant attempted to put out the fire via various means before calling 911, delaying the dispatch of firefighters to the incident and allowing the fire to grow.
The Big Sky Fire Department was assisted by the Yellowstone Club Fire Department, the Gallatin Gateway Fire Department, the RAE/Sourdough Fire Department, the Central Valley Fire Department, the Hebgen Basin Fire Department, the Bozeman Fire Department, the Fort Ellis Fire Department, the Manhattan Fire Department and the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office.