Residents displaced after fire in historic Helena home

Structure fire in downtown Helena
Posted at 11:20 AM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-04 10:15:17-04

HELENA — UPDATE 5:45 p.m. - The Helena Fire Department says several residents have been displaced, after a fire in a historic downtown home Monday morning.

Firefighters say the home, in the 300 block of State Street, sustained significant damage.

The fire was first reported around 10:45 a.m., when someone on Mount Helena called 911 and reported seeing smoke rising from a building in the downtown area. A passing bicyclist then provided authorities with a more specific location.

When firefighters arrived at the scene, they found heavy smoke coming out of the home. They believe the fire started on the second floor – possibly in a bedroom – then spread into the attic.

HFD Assistant Chief Mike Chambers said they were mostly limited to spraying water and attacking the fire from ladder trucks, since they had concerns the roof might have become unstable.

“We did have some crews in there assessing where the fire was,” he said. “They were able to gain access but not maintain fire operations inside. So we’re going on the side of caution and safety for the firefighters.”

Chambers said they don’t believe anyone was inside the home when the fire started. He said no one was injured.

Three family members were displaced, and Chambers said HFD has offered to connect them with assistance through the Red Cross.

Neighbors identified the historic brick building as the “Lissner Mansion.” According to Lewis and Clark County heritage preservation officer Pam Attardo, it was built in the 1880s for Marcus Lissner, a pioneer, businessman, civic leader and prominent member of Helena’s early Jewish community.

Chambers said the home’s current owners have had it in their family for several decades, and are only the second family to own it.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

A number of nearby agencies assisted HFD on the fire, including the West Valley-Lewis and Clark County, East Valley, Fort Harrison VA, Montana City fire departments and St. Peter’s Health.

UPDATE 11:50 a.m. - Helena Fire Assistant Chief Mike Chambers says they have found the fire and have water on it. It’s a large old house and the fire spread into the attic. They are using ladders and crews to get on it now.

At this time no one is believed to have been inside the building.

Structure fire in downtown Helena
Structure fire in downtown Helena

ORIGINAL STORY - The City of Helena Fire Department received a call shortly before 11:00 a.m. on Monday for a structure fire in downtown Helena at the 200 block of State Street.

Official ask that people please avoid the area so that fire crews can work.

Structure fire in downtown Helena

Crews from the City of Helena Fire Department, West Valley / Lewis & Clark County Volunteer Fire Department, and the VA Fire Department are currently responding to the fire.

MTN's Jonathon Ambarian is on scene and will provide more updates as they become available as they are available.