Fire Does Major Damage to SAFE Headquarters in Hamilton
Fire in the crawlspace beneath a battered women's shelter caused an evacuation of the building and structural damage Friday. There were no injuries.
The fire, late Friday afternoon, is believed to have started from a flipped lit cigarette near the front entrance of the S.A.F.E. (Supporters of Abuse Free Environments) offices on Fairgrounds Road in Hamilton.
Though investigation is continuing, the theory is that wind blew the cigarette into flammable material (see green circle in photo) and the fire spread, out-of-sight and unnoticed, under the building. The fire had apparently burned for some time, causing severe damage to a number of floor support joists.
When Hamilton firemen arrived, they cut a number of holes through the floor to get to the flames. The resulting smoke spread throughout the building before the fire was extinguished.
Those living in apartments were moved out of the building and the floor in the main office is unsafe until the joists can be replaced, according to firemen and city officials.
SAFE offers housing to domestic abuse victims and operates a 24-hour crisis line and counseling for the Bitterroot Valley.