Darla Agtarap sobbed as she watched her home since 1999 burn to the ground. The Wylie Drive residence was destroyed in a quick-moving fire Monday afternoon.
Agtarap received a call from one of her neighbors at about 1:30 p.m. telling her that her home in Twilight Trailer Court was engulfed in flames. She thought — and hoped — it was a joke. Other residents comforted her as Agtarap wished for the best for her home, but was informed of the worst.
“Now I have nothing. Not one penny left,” she said through tears as she stood along the roadside.
It has been a hard year for Agtarap, who lost her downtown business Dippin’ Dots over the summer. Some of the remnants from the ice cream franchise were in the home and sheds along with her personal items.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, according to East Valley Fire Chief Dave Sammons. When fire crews arrived, the whole home was burning.
“We were trying to keep it from getting to other homes,” Sammons said, adding that four sheds also were destroyed.
East Valley was joined by several local volunteer fire departments. Crews remained on scene throughout the evening putting out hot spots. The state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation responded to help with a grass fire, sparked by the initial blaze. The Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office was on hand to help with traffic control as part of Wylie Drive just outside of East Helena was shut down because of fire traffic in the area.
Agtarap said she was thankful no other homes were lost and no one was injured.
“We’re still alive and kicking, I guess. All I prayed is that everyone was out,” she said.