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Volunteer firefighters from four communities will gather in Hamilton Saturday for training while burning down an apartment complex on Marcus Street. Officials are asking people to steer clear of the area. 

It’s been close to a century since the residents of Hamilton first started coming together to shake a leg on the old building’s floors.

This Saturday, there will be a different kind of dance at the old building in the 220 block of Marcus Street and officials are asking folks to keep their distance.

This time around it will be flames that will be dancing as volunteer firefighters from four Bitterroot Valley communities receive important training on how to fight structure fires Saturday morning.

The building had long ago been remodeled into apartments.

“As far as I know, it’s been an apartment building since the 1940s,” said the building’s current owner, George Bingham.

When Bingham purchased the property, he had its structural integrity assessed. The experts told him it would be cheaper to knock it down and build something new.

Bingham has close ties with the local volunteer fire department. He knows the challenges the departments have in doing live training.

So he donated the building to the fire department rather than just have it demolished.

As a result, Hamilton Fire Chief Brad Mohn said volunteer firefighters from Hamilton, Corvallis, Pinesdale and Darby will be able to experience what it takes to knock down an structural fire.

“This will allow for several opportunities for fire fighters to be able to go into a fire and put it out,” Mohn said. “It’s invaluable for young firefighters to be able to experience that first hand.”

While it used to be a bit more commonplace for people to burn down old structures, Mohn said that’s not the case anymore.

“Those opportunities are getting to be far and few in between,” he said.

Mohn said the area around the fire will be congested Saturday.

“If the public can avoid it as much as possible, that would be great,” Mohn said.


Associate Editor

Reporter for The Ravalli Republic.