Fire near Proctor destroys barn, vehicles

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The wooden two-story barn near Proctor burned down in an hour Tuesday morning as fire crews from around the western Flathead Lake area rushed to refill their tanks from sites in Elmo and Dayton. (Seaborn Larson/The Daily Inter Lake)

A barn workshop on Bower Lane near Proctor caught fire Tuesday morning and flames quickly destroyed the two-story wooden structure and its contents.

Firefighters from the Chief Cliff, Polson and Rollins fire departments and the Department of Natural Resource and Conservation responded to the remote site 6 miles from U.S. 93, containing the fire within an hour while mop-up took about another hour.

Chief Cliff was the first department on the scene; Polson Fire Department took command after arriving shortly afterwards.

“It was an intense fire load and there was some substantial fire loss,” said Martin Glasson of the Polson Fire Department. “But it could have gotten a lot worse really quickly.”

Inside the barn were a Hummer H1, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, a handful of snowmobiles and acetylene tanks that burst during the fire. Other items including a generator and several large tool boxes also were lost in the fire.

“He had a lot of toys,” Chief Cliff Fire Chief Andy Learn said. “I’d hate to put a number on [the cost of damage] but well over $100,000.”

The owner of the barn, Brandan Cames, was inside the building when the fire started but was able to escape before the structure became fully engulfed in flames. The embers were hot enough to start spot fires nearby but those were easily mopped up, Learn said.

The fire bordered Plum Creek property and forest lands, Learn said, prompting responses from several different departments.

“[Cames] said it started so fast,” said Sydney Woolf, who lives on the property and is a friend of Cames. After escaping the fire, Cames called Woolf to tell her the barn had caught fire.

“I was so worried I had to leave work. It’s so scary knowing that someone could have lost their life,” she said.

Woolf said the barn wasn’t an old structure. Inside were a bathroom and small living area. Woolf and Cames have a third roommate who was not there when the fire began.

A small shed nearby was untouched and Cames’ house a few hundred feet away was not affected by the fire. A metal freight shipping container was next to the barn, its sides melted and cracked. Some furniture inside the container was ruined from the heat conducted through the metal walls.

Water tankers refilled at sites in Elmo and Dayton for the firefighting effort. Mission Valley Power arrived about 45 minutes after the fire started to shut power down on the property.  

“All of our areas are more dry than average,” Learn said. “It’s going to be fire season even into the fall.”

The cause of the fire is still unknown.

Reporter Seaborn Larson may be reached at 758-4441 or by email at

A fire started inside of Brandan Cames' workshop barn Tuesday morning, destroying the entire structure and several items inside, including an H1-Hummer, snowmobiles, a Harley Davidson motorcycle and several acetylene tanks that fanned the blaze. (Seaborn Larson/The Daily Inter Lake)

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