The Stevensville Fire Department was dispatched to the 200 block of Main Street in downtown Stevensville for smoke coming out of a heater at 9:36 p.m. on Saturday, December 15th. A resident of one of the apartments above the Stevi Cafe smelled the smoke and called 911.
Fire Chief Jeff Motley told the Bitterroot Star that the first responders went directly to the second floor from where the call came and found the whole floor engulfed in smoke. The residents were evacuated without incident or injury. Town staff and the Mayor are working with the American Red Cross to provide temporary housing for the nine residents displaced as a result of the fire.
Unable to discover any flames on the second floor, he said, the attic and the downstairs were checked and the fire was discovered in the café. Motley said the first-floor business suffered severe fire, smoke and water damage in the kitchen area where the fire originated. He said there was no sprinkler system in the café but a suppression system attached to the range hood did deploy. He said the north part of the first floor with the bar and dining area was not burned but did have significant smoke damage. He said the second-floor apartments sustained moderate smoke damage. The adjacent public library also sustained minor smoke damage.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Property and content losses have yet to be determined.
The Stevensville Fire Department was assisted by firefighters from Florence, Three-Mile and Victor Fire Departments and Marcus Daly ambulance. Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office and the Stevensville Police Department personnel coordinated traffic control as the fire took place on Stevensville’s busy Main Street. According to Motley, 38 firefighters responded to the call and 13 apparatus were at the scene, not calling it quits until 2 a.m.
Motley said, “Everybody was insured but it will be a process to get it back up and going.”
Stevensville Mayor Brandon Dewey commented, “We are very thankful that no one was injured in this unfortunate event. All of the firefighters who responded did a remarkable job. I am very proud of their quick response and coordinated efforts on scene.”
Dewey added, “While this is an unfortunate event, we are blessed that Stevensville is a generous community that will rise to the occasion when our neighbors find themselves in a time of need and support.”