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'Flames shot in': Bridger residents lose everything in house fire they barely escaped

Chuck Anderson's vehicle and home
Posted at 11:29 AM, Jan 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-08 13:29:05-05

BRIDGER — Last Saturday, a house fire broke out in Bridger, trapping the residents inside. They got out just in time, but the house is a complete loss.

Warped siding on the house from the fire
Warped siding on the house from the fire

Chuck Anderson and Terry Reynolds lost everything in that fire. Now, they're left to start completely over.

"You don’t have time to think,” Reynolds said on Saturday.

When disaster strikes, chaos ensues.

"You just react," Reynolds said. "I don’t know that you even think."

Terry Reynolds
Terry Reynolds

Reynolds was sitting with her roommate, Chuck Anderson, in his Bridger home when they heard a strange noise coming from the porch.

"We just kept hearing this pop, pop. We heard a noise out here on the porch area, and (Chuck) opened the door," Reynolds said. "It was fully engulfed and the flames shot in."

The moments that followed were pure terror as the flames engulfed both the inside and outside of the home.

"We were trying to get out the back door. (It) got stuck and we couldn’t get out,” Reynolds said. “We called for 911 and we were trying to get out."

Reynolds suspects an electrical shortage on the front porch started the blaze.

"When we got here and I actually saw that it was real, I started to cry," Madison Reynolds, Terry's granddaughter, said on Saturday. "It was very emotional. After hearing how they had to get out, and almost not making it out. Chuck Anderson actually had to shoot the back door out."

Madison Reynolds
Madison Reynolds

Chuck and Terry were able to barely escape the blaze. Chuck had to use his shotgun to shoot and break the doorknob. They made it out with Chuck's two dogs, but Terry's two cats were nowhere to be found.

"I still have one cat that we haven’t found," Terry said. "My other little cat, unbeknownst to us, it was like three days later that we did find it in the back room. And he’s burnt, his little paws."

He spent some time at the Red Lodge Veterinary Clinic, but he’s now home healing.

"He got to come home," Terry said. "We just have to do a whole lot of home care for him, but he’s coming along really good."

They're grateful to the Bridger, Fromberg, and Belfry volunteer fire departments for extinguishing the blaze. They also wanted to give a shout-out to the Carbon County Sheriff's Office for its assistance.

Kapor Lumber owns the property the home was on. Terry says her son has worked there for years, and the company has offered support to her during this time.

Chuck's daughter, Charley Anderson-Downard, added the Red Cross played a major part in helping out following the fire.

Terry just moved to Montana in October, after spending most of her life in Wyoming. One of her children recently passed away, prompting her to be closer to her family in Bridger.

"I lost my other son. I stayed in Lander (Wyoming) for a long, long time," said Terry. "Then the kids said, ‘Just come up here.’"

But she never would have imagined just three months after moving, losing everything in an instant.

"When they say it comes in a second, it really, really does,” Terry said.

Charred chair outside of the home
Charred chair outside of the home

Terry said she is remaining positive, showing her gratitude to those who have offered a helping hand.

"The neighbors here, when it first happened, came to assist with a chair or a coat. Something that they could offer at that moment,” Terry said.

Terry is staying with family in Bridger while she figures out her next steps. Chuck is staying with friends but was left homeless.

Madison added that if anyone is interested in donating to Terry, there is a fund set up for her in Bridger.

“There was an account down at (Bank of Bridger), you can also do it at any local (Bank of Bridger). Under Terry Reynolds,” Madison said.

There is also a bank account set up for Chuck Anderson at the Bank of Bridger, located at 101 S. Main St. He rented the home for 17 years and lost everything, including a vehicle, in the fire.

Chuck Anderson's vehicle and home
Chuck Anderson's vehicle and home

"I’m very thankful that they came to my need. And I’d like to say thank you to the town and everyone," Terry said. "The fire department, the sheriff’s office. Everyone that was here when this tragedy started. I don’t even know how to say thank you. But I’m very grateful to the town and everyone."