At least 5 killed in fiery crash

HELENA - A fire engine and a pickup truck collided on U.S. Highway 12 in southwestern Montana, causing an explosion and fire that killed six people, including three children.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy Bob Gleich said the collision happened about 9 p.m. Thursday about 10 miles east of Helena, forcing both vehicles into the ditch. Witnesses said the vehicles immediately caught fire, and Gleich says they melted together in the resulting inferno.

Montana Highway Patrol Capt. Gary Becker said the crash killed the driver of the fire truck and a Helena family of five in the pickup truck.

The Gallatin County sheriff's office said Three Forks Fire Chief Todd Rummel was one of the victims. The names and ages of the others involved haven't been released.

The road remained closed Friday morning as the investigation continued.

Gleich described the scene as an "inferno," and officials were heard over a police scanner saying witnesses saw a mushroom cloud when the two vehicles collided.
"A witness who saw the crash happen said it was an instantaneous explosion and nobody got out, so that's a driver in each vehicle," he said.

The Montana Highway Patrol is investigating the crash, Gleich said, and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office is handling the death investigation.