Grass fire ignites near Liberty Street apartments

April 4, 2019 GMT

Liberty Street resident Eileen Pryor lauded Kalispell Fire Department’s swift response in extinguishing a grass fire that was not far from the apartment complex where she lives.

The fire department was called to the scene - a field behind Glacier State Apartments and El Dorita Village complexes - at 5:47 p.m. Tuesday.

“Before they were all out of the trucks, they had the hose going,” Pryor said. “They did a fantastic job, just an awesome job.”

“There were flames crackling and popping in three areas,” she said, pointing beyond a fence behind Glacier State Apartments, an area by El Dorita Village and farther in the distance to a cluster of trees where a vehicle appeared to have been abandoned and where firefighters were still working.

Resident Kayce Upchurch said she was alerted to the fire when a couple of children knocked on her and other neighbor’s doors.

“It was pretty intense and moving really fast,” Upchurch said, noting the blaze was fanned by a light wind.

Before firefighters arrived, Upchurch said her son went out to shovel dirt over flames as they neared the buildings, which Pryor also noticed.

Kalispell Fire Department Lt. Chris Rupp estimated roughly an acre to an acre and a half burned, but there were no injuries or structure damage.

“It was contained pretty quickly,” Rupp said, noting that fortunately, watered grass surrounded the buildings.

Although there are still piles of snow here and there, it’s not too early to be cautious around flash fuels that can be rapidly consumed by flames, such as dry grass, leaves, pine needles and branches.

Also on Tuesday, West Valley Fire Department was dispatched south of Whitefish where a grass fire burned 31 acres and structures off KM Ranch Road. Several other area fire departments and the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation assisted.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.