Wes Hanson went outside his 11th Street trailer home Saturday to have a cigarette while his sons, 2 and 4, were playing inside.
The boys started yelling, and Hanson went inside, figuring he’d have to break up a fight.
Instead, he saw thick black smoke. The 4-year-old, he said, had started a fire by playing with charcoal lighter fluid.
Hanson said he got the kids out of the house, tried to put out the fire with a blanket, but the smoke billowing out of the house was too much.
“The smoke was so thick I couldn’t see,” he said.
“Neighbors came to help,” he said. “People I didn’t even know were there. The people were great.”
Havre firefighters arrived on the scene and stayed for two hours until the fire was entirely out.
Hanson, who is unemployed said he was planning to sell the home and use the money to move out of town where he could get a job.
He said he lost all of his possessions in the fire.
He had no insurance, he said, because his insurance had recently been canceled.
After the fire, Hanson suffered second-degree burns on his hands where the blanket melted onto his hands, he said. Painful blisters remain on the hands, he said.
His 2-year-old also sustained second-degree burns on his arms.
They were treated and released at Northern Montana Hospital.
All his belonging in the house were destroyed, Hanson said.
The Montana Red Cross had purchased some clothes for him.
The boys are staying with their mother.
The Red Cross also is providing him with a motel room.
The Salvation Army said it would have to wait to see what services the Red Cross provided before making a decision on assistance.