HELENA — More than 20 families were forced to evacuate their homes early Tuesday after a fire burned a significant portion of the Tower Hill apartments in downtown Helena. Now the American Red Cross is housing them in the First Assembly of God in Helena.
Helena Assistant Fire Chief Mike Chambers told MTN that firefighters were dispatched to 24 South Ewing just before 2:15 a.m. No firefighters or residents were injured. A few people were checked out for smoke or stress-related issues, but nobody was taken to a hospital.
“We heard the word 'fire' and I grabbed my son Davy. Immediately I threw my shoes on and I was out the door. My wife Carla grabbed our cat and she was right behind me,” said Austin Jacobs, who has lived at the Tower Hill apartment complex for three years.
He says he and his family were woken up by knocks on the door and realized the complex was on fire.
“I mean we were dead asleep, you know. Some Good Samaritan ran up and down the apartment complex beating on doors. But we never found out who it was,” said Jacobs.
Another resident, Kolter Wilmot, had just gotten home from work; he recalled, “I was kind of just shocked because it was 2 a.m. and I'm like, I seriously hope I wake up from this, it's like one of those weird dreams.”
“I’m glad it's over with. I do have to say the fire people and like police they did a phenomenal job,” said Allen Shaffee, a three-year resident of the apartment complex.
Despite the tearful morning and long day, displaced residents are doing their best to stay positive.
“You can't really change too much of what happens, you just try your best thing to have a good attitude about it,” said Wilmot.
The United Way of the Lewis and Clark Area has been posting updates for items needed by those displaced.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated.