Early Morning Fire at Montana Weekly

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By: E&P Staff

A Sept. 22 fire destroyed a 95-year-old building in the northeastern Montana town of Malta, forcing the closure of five businesses, including the weekly Phillips County News, published for 25 years by the building’s owners, Curtis and Bonnie Starr.

No injuries were reported.

The fire broke out at 3:45 a.m., according to Billings Gazette reporter Chelsea Krotzer. The week’s edition of the News was distributed later the same day, and the paper will continue operating from the Starrs’ home while they seek new office space, according to the Montana Newspaper Association.

The Associated Press reported the fire chief saying the cause of the blaze may never be unknown, owing to its intensity and duration, which caused much of building material to collapse into the basement by 6:00 a.m.

Saying there was no reason to suspect arson, Mayor Shyla Jones nevertheless said the investigation could last two weeks.

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