Arson is suspected in vehicle and house fires Tuesday afternoon in a Bonner-area neighborhood near Interstate 90.
“We have information they may have been intentionally set, and we do have suspects we’re looking into,” Detective Garrett Van Hoose of the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department said Wednesday.
A release from Missoula Rural Fire District said firefighters from nearby Bonner Station 4 responded shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday to several calls to the Missoula 911 Center. The reports indicated a vehicle fire off Rustic Road and Wood Hill Court in Bonner.
The actual scene turned out to be on Connolly Loop, where a vehicle was found to be well involved with fire when initial responders arrived. It was only 10-15 feet from a home. After the fire was out, firefighters entered the house and found there was fire inside it as well.
“Firefighters made an extensive search inside the home and suppressed the fire they found in the single-family residence as well,” the release said.
Missoula Rural firefighters saved a significant part of the residence due to their quick response and action, the statement said.
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No injuries were reported and no damage estimate was available.
Missoula Rural responded with two engines, two water tenders and two command vehicles. Clinton Rural fire assisted at the scene, while East Missoula fire covered the Bonner response area for Missoula Rural.
Van Hoose said he talked to an arson investigator on Wednesday.
“This is the very early stages of the investigation because it just happened yesterday,” the sheriff’s detective said. “We’re still working through it.”
It was the third house fire east of Missoula this month. A single mother and her two children, ages 4 and 6, lost their Clinton home and everything in it to a fire on Oct. 8. A fire gutted an East Missoula residence on Oct. 23, leaving a single woman raising her four grandchildren without a home. Separate GoFundMe accounts have been set up to aid both families (see links online here and here).