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Two men die in Condon house fire

Two Condon men died in a fire Saturday night that engulfed
this wood frame house on Charles Road.
P. Swan Smith photo

September 30, 1999
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana

by Patricia Swan Smith
For the Pathfinder

Two men and their dogs died in a house fire near Condon early Saturday night, and alcohol is presumed to be a factor in the tragedy, according to Missoula County Sheriff's Deputy Bob Parcell.

According to toxicology reports, both men died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Parcell said that the fire is being viewed as accidental at this time, and that no foul play is suspected.

"It appears to be an accident," Parcell said, "We believe there was alcohol involved and we're waiting for the results of the blood tests from the Crime Lab,"

Officer Parcell said that with a fire, identification of victims can take more time, but that after the investigation, they have assumed the victims to be John Colburn, 37, and Kenneth Hober, 39, both of Condon. The families of the assumed victims were notified.

The house that burned was rented to John Colburn, and Hober has a home in the area.

Both the men had been seen together earlier in the afternoon. While officials believe they have identified the victims, positive identification will be forthcoming from the State Crime Lab.

Parcell said that the fire was reported at 7:25 p.m. Condon Fire Department and Parcell arrived to a fully involved structure fire on Charles Road just north of the Condon Work Center. Two trucks were parked in front of the home, but there was nobody nearby. It was hoped that the two men had been picked up by friends and were not inside.

Firefighters battled the blaze in the wood-framed, two-bedroom home, while Parcell started a search for the two men at local businesses in the valley. After talking with several business owners and not finding the men, Parcell returned to the fire.

Soon, the firefighters found the first body and a dog.

"Once a body was found," Parcell said, "The firefighters continued to put out the hot spots and started preserving the area as a crime scene so we could try to investigate what was left. It was a total loss. The firefighters were released around midnight."

Search and Rescue members guarded the scene until Sunday morning when Parcell and Fire Marshall Dick Larson out of Missoula began their investigations.

After the search was completed on Sunday, another body and dog had been found, according to Parcell. He said they believe the fire started outside on the porch where the men had apparently started the barbecue. They may have gone inside and fell asleep while waiting for the barbecue to get hot, he said.

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