Fire destroys antiques mall west of Bozeman

Posted: 8/13/2013

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A vehicle fire spread to an antiques mall west of Bozeman on Monday night, burning the large commercial building to the ground.

The fire at Country Mall Antiques, 8350 Huffine Lane, was reported at 9:31 p.m. By the time firefighters arrived, the large steel and wood building was fully engulfed, said Rae Fire Chief Brian Nickolay.

"We had heavy fire involvement in the building, so we took a defensive approach," Nickolay explained, meaning that firefighters were not sent into the building but rather fought the fire from outside.

No one was in the building when the fire started, and no one was injured, Nickolay said.

Every fire department in the valley apart from Three Forks and Willow Creek responded to the fire, lining Huffine Lane with pumpers, tenders and ladder trucks. Onlookers captured video and photos with their phones while family and friends of the owners gathered to watch.

Gwen Allen, who manages the building for her mother, owner Noel Vance, said the family's first thoughts upon learning of the fire were for the roughly two dozen vendors renting space in the antiques mall.

"It's like family right now," Allen said. "I'm really in so much shock. It really hasn't sunk in yet."

One vendor, who preferred not to give his name, said he had $5,000 to $10,000 worth of merchandise in the building. Likely, none of it would be recovered, he added.

Nickolay said Gallatin County deputies had spoken to the woman whose car started the fire, but there was as of yet no sign of foul play.

Firefighters were still on scene at midnight and expected to be there for several more hours.

Story provided by:  www.bozemandailychronicle.com

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