A large grass fire that may have been human-caused was reported late Sunday night in the Grant Creek area on property on Gleneagle Way.

KGVO News spoke to Battalion Chief Ron Lubke with Missoula Rural Fire on Monday who provided details on the fire.

“Just after 10:30 p.m. on July 17, Missoula County 9-1-1 began receiving multiple phone calls, reporting a fire in the Grant Creek area. Most of those calls were coming from people in the Missoula valley who could see it but they could not pinpoint the exact location,” said Chief Lubke. “Shortly after that, a property owner in the area advised that the fire was near his property and granted us or was able to provide access into the area where the fire was going through his property at 4747 Gleneagle Way.

Lubke said Missoula City Fire was initially dispatched to the fire but gave way to Missoula Rural Fire due to the location.

“Initially, because of the unknown location, the Missoula Fire Department was dispatched,” he said. “Then as the location became more clear, it was noted to be outside of the city limits and Missoula Rural Fire District and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) were also dispatched to the scene. The first engines to arrive found a fairly significant grass fire that was spreading rapidly. The wind was pushing it to the south towards the Gleneagle Subdivision.”

Lubke said to protect the homes in the subdivision, his crews flanked the fire.

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“At first, crews began attacking the head of the fire that was headed for the subdivision and as additional crews arrived they began flanking the fire on both sides,” he said. “Then we also had some more crews that arrived and they came in from the bottom and they were able to all meet in the middle and pinch the fire off before it caused any significant damage. However, it did burn about 4.3 acres.”

Lubke said because there was human activity suspected, that there could be liability issues for those who may have caused the fire.

“The fire is still under investigation, however, there was a report of fireworks in the area prior to the fire, but that has not been confirmed yet,” he said. “We do have Deputy Fire Marshals that are working on it. By state statute, they can be held liable for any damages that are done; including the cost of fighting the fire, and certainly potentially criminally liable if there was negligence or intent to cause the fire. So they definitely could be held responsible in that manner.”

That investigation is still underway. Lubke said there were no injuries reported by the fire itself or to the firefighters.

Fire danger in Missoula County has been raised to high as of Monday.

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