A fire in a converted garage on North 2nd Street early Thursday morning, April 17, left one man with minor burns after his hair caught on fire. 

Fire Marshall Gordy Hughes with the Missoula Fire Department said the call came in to 9-1-1 just after 5 a.m.

"When crews arrived to a structure in the rear of the property, they found a garage that had been converted into what can be described as 'a flophouse' with four individuals inside. The building was well involved with fire when we got there, and we had it knocked down quickly, within about 15 minutes. Our investigation concluded that a kerosene lamp had burned down and some combustibles ignited which caught the building on fire."

Hughes said one man was injured in the fire.

"One of the residents sustained some mild burns on his head, neck and shoulders with some smoke inhalation," Hughes said. "Fortunately, one of his friends who was sleeping nearby was awakened by the smoke, and noticed that his friend's hair was on fire. He pulled his friend out of the structure and the two tried to put out the fire themselves, which actually delayed the arrival of the fire department."

Neighbors called 9-1-1 to report the building was on fire.

"There were no smoke detectors in the building," Hughes said. "The garage had been turned into a flophouse with four occupants and three partitions in the structure. It would definitely be an illegal, non-conforming occupancy, but since it was in the back yard near the alley, there's no way anyone would have seen it for code enforcement. These kinds of places exist everywhere throughout the city."

Hughes said the only safe structure a well-built home with smoke detectors and other safety equipment.

The injured man was checked out by an EMT, but refused to be hospitalized.

Missoula Fire Marshall Gordy Hughes