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Residents, pets displaced after Missoula apartment fire

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Jun 13 2013 10:56:36 PM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Dozens of residents were forced out of their homes after a fire ripped through an apartment building in Missoula. 

The blaze started Thursday afternoon and burned for over four hours.  The Missoula Fire Department and Missoula Rural Fire responded to the blaze at the Vantage Villa apartments on East Broadway. 

We were on the scene and saw at least seven water trucks, several emergency response vehicles and nearly a dozen Missoula Police officers.  Nearly 50 firefighters responded to attack the blaze.

Fire officials tell NBC Montana there are 40 units in the complex.  Six suffered major fire damage and at least 12 suffered major water damage. 

Fire officials tell us no one was hurt and all of the pets survived. 

Donna Kalantar lives in the Silvertip Apartments, right next door to where the blaze broke out.  She tells NBC Montana she heard sirens and ran out to see what happened.

“A lady came back to the back of the building down by the river and she was so upset that her little dog was lost,” she said.  “Looking at it from the back side you can't really tell which apartment is yours.”

Kalantar says once she heard pets were missing she wanted to help.

“I started doing a pet search,” she said.  “I was looking in the bushes and shrubs for any pets I could find.”

She tells me her attention turned to her neighbor whose tiny Pomeranian was still unaccounted for.

“She was looking up and she's like, ‘Oh my God, it's a total loss.  My poor little dog is dead.  There is no way my dog could have made it out!’”

Kalantar tells NBC Montana she tried to comfort her neighbor.

“I told her how sorry I was and then she realized that wasn't her apartment,” said Kalantar.  “Then (firefighters) climbed the ladder and they rescued her little Pomeranian.”

Kalantar tells us it was a wonderful sight to see the woman reunited with her dog. 

“She was so happy about that and she could have cared less about the stuff inside her apartment,” she said.  “A life was saved and that made her whole day.”

Apartment loss aside, Kalantar said she's just glad no one was hurt.

“All of the animals are safe and all of the people are safe and so that's all that we can ask for,” said Kalantar. 

Firefighters tell NBC Montana it will be some time before they know the extent of the damage.

The Red Cross is finding housing for displaced residents tonight.  No word yet on how long they'll be out of their homes.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.