Missoula Rural Fire, as well as several other agencies are responding to the scene at the Axmen Recycling where anywhere from 50 to more than 100 vehicles are ablaze, causing thick black smoke to rise into the air near the Wye.

Missoula Rural Fire Assistant Chief of Operations Paul Finlay spoke to KGVO as he was responding to the blaze just before 4:00 p.m. on Thursday.

“We are en route with a number of our resources and a number of requested agency resources from around the area to the Axmen Recycling on Summit Drive for what was reported as a vehicle fire,” said Finlay. “On our arrival, our initial responding rig reported multiple vehicles on fire and a stack of another 50 to 100 cars that were being compromised by the fire at that point.”

Finlay said there was no danger to surrounding residences despite the large plume of black smoke.

“Not at this time,” he said. “There is a very minimal wind so the smoke is going up at this point and so less of a concern for that, but we will continue to monitor that situation as the situation develops as well.”

Finlay described the response to the blaze from multiple agencies.

“We have a water tender from Frenchtown responding,” he said. “We have an RF Rescue Truck from the airport out there with our units as well. And then we have a water tender from the Missoula Fire Department.  The East Missoula Fire Department is currently covering our Bonner station as we backfill some of our stations as well with some of our rigs. So we're moving in some additional resources a little closer to the fire and some other coverage areas. So we've had a lot of our neighbors to assist us as well.”

Finlay said he expects this fire to burn for quite some time, considering the number of junked vehicles at the facility.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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