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Boy perishes in Box Elder house fire


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A fire at a Box Elder location killed a boy and left a residence a total loss early Sunday morning. Ruby BigKnife, who lived in the Wild Rose Village home with her son, daughter and grandson, said that the fire alarm woke her up after 4 a.m. She woke the remaining members of the household, ushering them outside and to a neighbor's house. But she was unaware that her grandson's friend was also in the house, and he slept through the noise, she said. "I just feel so bad about that kid that died there," she said, declining to give his name. The house's door was unlocked and the boy must have come in late at night, she said. "He was like my grandson's best friend." The family was home at the time of the fire, confirmed Grace Has Many Horses with Rocky Boy criminal investigation. She declined to say whether any deaths resulted from the blaze. "Because I can't," she said when asked why she couldn't. Chouteau County Sheriff/Coroner Vern Burdick said Monday that he is acting as coroner on the fire, but requested the reporter go through Has Many Horses for more information. Burdick was not in this morning when calls were placed seeking further information. "It started with an electrical fire from the cookstove oven, and it just blew up totally, real fast like," BigKnife said. She was unable to save anything from the home, she added. "We just barely had time to get out." BigKnife said that the police didn't respond for "a good half hour or more" Because of an accident at another location. The Box Elder Volunteer Fire Department responded after receiving a call from the Chippewa Cree Tribe at about 5 a.m., said John Grass, the volunteers' chief. Three engines and seven volunteers responded to the scene about 20 minutes later, but the home was already destroyed, he said. Rocky Boy Police were on the scene at 4:27 a.m. after receiving a call from an anonymous male, said Has Many Horses. Some Rocky Boy firefighters also arrived on scene, she said. "We're not divulging any information on it right now because it's under investigation, so we'll let you know when we can," said Curtis Monteaux, with the Rocky Boy Department of Natural Resources, after confirming that Rocky Boy fire personnel did respond. Surrounding structures sustained no damage, Grass said, because of snow cover and distance between houses in the village. The cause of the fire is not known at this time, Has Many Horses said. The fire marshall has been called, but the investigation is not finished. Debbie Dujanovic Bertram, a public affairs specialist with the FBI in Salt Lake City, said that the FBI is investigating, but can't release any other information at this time. BigKnife said she's staying with a nephew until she can find other housing. "I don't think I want to live there again, since there was a death in that house," she said about rebuilding.


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