Missoula Story of the Week: House Fire Victims Need Support


A house fire that quickly engulfed a family’s home in the Target Range area west of Missoula Thursday morning claimed the life of an eleven-year-old boy, leaving a family and community struggling with the loss.

Jordan Matt witnessed the mother and three children, who also lived in the house, exiting the residence, according to NBCMontana.com news. When firefighters arrived at the blaze, they were told by the mother that one child remained in the house.

The Missoulian reported that Dominick Sharpe died in the fire despite the heroic efforts of the Missoula Rural Fire Department members. The firefighters swiftly entered the home to save the boy, even though the internal temperature was 800 degrees. Crews were able to reach the child, who was then taken by ambulance to Community Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

The Billings Gazette confirmed that fire crews from Missoula and nearby Frenchtown fought the fire with several engines and over thirty firefighters.

Despite their ability to initially bat down the flames, the fire re-erupted in the home’s attic requiring a second effort to quell the blaze according to Battalion Chief Dan Merritt. As of late Thursday, the cause of the fire was still being investigated.

The tragic news of Dominick’s passing reached Target Range Thursday morning where he attended the school’s fourth grade.

Officials at the school acted quickly, briefing staff and teachers of the loss. According to the previously mentioned Missoulian article, the school’s Principal Luke Laslovich, “prepared a message to be read aloud to the students in the classrooms,” and sent an email to parents of students informing them of the situation.

Laslovich also brought in councilors from Hellgate Elementary School in order to help students and staff who were hit hard by the heartbreaking loss.

Principal Laslovich opened the school to accept donations for the family. According to the Missoulian article, “by the end of the day, help for the family had poured into the school, in the form of more than $1,000 cash and assorted household items and clothing for the surviving children.”

The school will continue to collect much-needed items for the family. If you’d like to donate to the family in the wake of this tragedy, a KPAX news story has details on how you can help.


Each week, Tom Diddel recaps the week’s most talked-about story in Missoula. Visit the Make it Missoula News & Opinion section for more talk of the town.


Tom Diddel has lived in Missoula on and off for nearly thirty-eight years. He enjoys skiing, hiking, and many other outdoor activities. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Montana and is currently working as a Freelance Writer and a Para-Educator.