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Investigators are blaming a furnace for sparking a fire that caused heavy damage to a North Side trailer home Wednesday night.

At about 6 p.m., the Billings Fire Department responded to a fire at a trailer home at 640 N. 15th St. When firefighters arrived, they found the single-wide trailer engulfed in flames.

It took crews about 15 minutes to knock the flames down.

Billings Fire Marshal Mike Spini said a natural gas furnace inside the home started the fire, which he declared accidental.

Firefighters doused the flames from outside but had trouble getting the door to the home open to attack the blaze from the inside, Capt. Brian Corneliusen said.

Below-zero temperatures and steady snow complicated efforts, freezing up gear and coating firefighters' clothing in ice.

Regulators on firefighters' breathing equipment froze over, which didn't allow air to get into their breathing masks, Battalion Chief Boyd Vopel said.

"When it gets that cold, it makes anything and everything either not work or more difficult," he said.

To compenstate, they either switched out their equipment regularly or had other firefighters replace them in smokey areas more frequently.

Nobody was inside when the fire started.

Spini said it causeed about $20,000 in damage. The occupand doesn't have renters insurance and it wasn't immediately clear if the trailer's owner had it covered with insurance, he said.

He also reminded people to use caution when warming their homes during cold weather. Spini recommended that people keep heaters and furnaces in good condition and to keep anything flammable at least three feet away from space heaters.

Four engines, a ladder truck and the battalion chief's vehicle responded.

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