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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: fire

Port-a-potty burns in northeast Spokane

Several engines responded to a structure fire shortly after 6 p.m. at Chief Garry Park in northeast Spokane.

That structure was a port-a-potty.

Firefighters doused the blaze in the 2500 block of East Mission Avenue shortly after it started. Witnesses reported seeing heavy smoke in the area, and the pungent fumes of outhouse aftermath wafted in the breeze.

A young boy who was nearby, clothed only in swim trunks, said several such fires have occurred in the neighborhood recently. Another neighbor, a man whose air conditioner was on the fritz and who came to the park to check out the engines, said some garages went up a couple years ago around the same time.

All that remained of the portable toilet Saturday evening was the charred roof near a softball field. Children were playing on an adjacent field when the final engine left the scene around 6:30 p.m.

Do you know this woman? Medical examiners need help identifying her next of kin.

The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the identity of the second individual killed in a mobile home fire early Monday morning, but need help contacting her family.

Robert “Amanda” Blanchard, 41, was found dead in the mobile home she lived in with her partner, Keith M. Barber, 50, according to a news release. The home at 2311 W 16th Ave. burned down shortly after midnight Monday. A cause of death has not been released for either victim.

Police are investigating her death as a murder suicide.

Blanchard was a transgender man living as a woman, police said. Investigators do not believe her identity was a factor in the murder-suicide.

Medical examiners have been unable to locate Blanchard’s relatives. Anyone with information about her next of kin is asked to call the medical examiner at 509-477-2296.

Male victim dies after Chattaroy mobile home explosion

One man died early Friday morning after suffering severe burns from a mobile home explosion in Chattaroy, Wash., according to Harborview Medical Center.

Michael Asselin, 51, and his wife, 57, were both badly burned when the mobile home Asselin lived in exploded Wednesday afternoon.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the fire as a domestic violence situation. An investigator at the scene Thursday said it may have been an attempted homicide or a high-level assault.

The female victim remains in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit at Harborview.

Related Coverage:

Official: Chattaroy fire suspicious

Chattaroy explosion may have been intentionally caused

Two severely burned in Chattaroy mobile home explosion

Arson targets Browne’s Addition garbage can

A garbage can in Browne’s Addition was the target of about four fires starting on Saturday morning.

Ray Ekins lives nearby and was walking his dog Duchess around 7 a.m. when he saw the first set of flames inside the barrel at Second Avenue and Chestnut Street. The same garbage can was on fire again about an hour later, he said.

“Poor garbage can,” Ekins said. He ended up calling 911 to report three of the fires.

Fire crews from Station 4 kept responding to the reported garbage fires and a Spokane Police officer parked nearby to keep an eye on the can, Spokane Police Sgt. Dan Ervin said.

The officer saw a man, later identified as Philip B. Lewis, 47, walk up to the can and allegedly light it on fire around 4 p.m, Ervin added.

Officers took Lewis into custody for two counts of second-degree arson and the fire was extinguished.

Reckless driver’s car found on fire

Police attempted to pull over a reckless driver near Park and Trent late Tuesday night, but lost it after the driver ignored a stop light at the Havana Street and Mission Avenue intersection, according to a Spokane County Sheriff’s Office news release.

A car with a similar description was found reportedly on fire in a homeowner’s driveway near 200 N. Bessie, said the news release. Deputies confirmed it was the same car and fire crews responded to put out the fully engulfed car.

The fire was declared not arson, according to Spokane Valley Fire investigators, but it may have started somewhere in the engine compartment, they told police.

Police don’t know at this time who the driver was or if the vehicle was stolen. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Shopping firefighter investigates smoke at White’s Boots

Is there a firefighter in the house? When employees of White's Boots smelled smoke this morning at their east Spokane store, there was.

The firefighter was shopping for boots at the 4002 E. Ferry Avenue store and even checked out the smoke for them. He advised employees to call 911 as a precaution, employees said.

Nothing was showing when Spokane Fire crews arrived, but they investigated and found an overloaded heating system. It was shut off to prevent further damage.

Now employees are preparing for a cool day outside and inside.

Photos show assault suspect; ID sought

Police are trying to identify a suspect in a Fourth of July assault that left a man beaten and burned at his makeshift camp near High Bridge Park.

  Surveillance photos show the victim at the Sunset Grocery with a young man police believe may have attacked him.

Spokane police officers contacted the victim at a hospital about 8 a.m. and learned he had been severely beaten and burned sometime during the night at his camp in a large gravel and grass pasture near Sunset Boulevard and Government Way.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to give their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Kevin Ellison to stay in jail without bail

A pro football player who claims God told him to start a fire at his apartment complex in Liberty Lake will remain in jail amid concerns about his mental health.

Kevin Marcus Ellison, 25, who was dismissed from the Spokane Shock arena football team after his arrest June 14, repeatedly claimed to be Jesus Christ, including to an elderly woman who was at the hospital when Ellison was treated for smoke inhalation, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Aine Ahmed.

“He may have some mental issues,” Ahmed said.

Ellison also told Shock general manager Ryan Rigmaiden “that he was Jesus Christ, and that he was part of the rapture, and that God told him to start the fire,” Ahmed said. “He did not believe it (the fire) was going to harm him because God told him he'd protect him.”

Ellison told Rigmaiden he started the fire with a marijuana blunt.

Ellison, a former standout defense back for the University of Southern California Trojans, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a grand jury indictment charging him with malicious use of fire to damage commercial property. He faces five to 20 years in prison if convicted.

His public defender, Kim Deater, asked for Ellison to be allowed to leave jail and live with his mother and brother in Los Angeles, though she said they wants him to undergo mental health treatment.

“They think that might be an issue,” Deater said.

Deater described Ellison as “a good friend, a good teammate, a good son, a good player.”

She said his success in football shows he can work toward a goal with a large group of people.

“That takes cooperation, that takes a bond, and that takes character,” Deater said.

She also said Ellison did not tell the elderly woman at the hospital that he was Jesus - he simply grasped her hand and prayed with her.

But Imbrogno ordered Ellison to stay in the Spokane County Jail after Ahmed described a series of bizarre behavior that included statements from a Shock dancer who said she fears Ellison.

“She became afraid of Mr. Ellison after he texted her specifically that he was Jesus Christ,” Ahmed said.

The woman, who was not identified, also said Ellison asked her to marry him just moments after meeting her.

He said Ellison's roommate, Chris Tucker, told investigators that Ellison told him he'd been Baptized just a few days before the fire. Tucker also said Ellison had offered him Vicodin to ease his pain while at an away game in Chicago recently.

It was Tucker who first realized there was a fire in the apartment he shared with Ellison.

The defensive lineman for the Shock told investigators he first thought the smoke was from burning food. He even took the batteries out of the smoke detector in his bedroom before he realized the fire was coming from Ellison's room, Ahmed said. He alerted Ellison to the fire, but Ellison told him “I'm good.” and didn't leave.

Ellison escaped the fire by jumping from a window of the third-floor apartment. The fire caused about $100,000 in damage. Ahmed emphasized that children live next door to Ellison's apartment.

Ellison was drafted in the sixth round by the San Diego Chargers in 2009. He was released by the team following a May 2010 arrest in San Diego on a controlled-substance charge after police reportedly found 100 Vicodin tablets in his car without a prescription. The charges was dropped.

Ellison joined the Seattle Seahawks but was released shortly before the 2010 season opener.

Shock player: God told me to start fire

A pro football player who leapt from his burning third-floor apartment in Liberty Lake Thursday said he started the blaze with a marijuana blunt because God told him to, authorities say.

 Kevin Marcus Ellison, 25, a starting linebacker/defensive back for the Spokane Shock arena football team, initially told firefighters that he’d been smoking in bed, but evidence collected at the scene didn’t match that explanation, said Spokane Valley Fire Marshal Kevin Miller.

Read the rest of the story here.

‘Middle-finger salute’ preceded fire

A man accused of trying to light his apartment complex on fire gave a surveillance camera the middle-finger salute before doing so, fire officials allege.

Ian W. Godfrey, 29, said he was angry with a flier being distributed at the HiFumi En Apartments, 926 E. 8th Ave., when he lit one on fire and walked through the building, according to the Spokane Fire Department.

The smoke triggered the apartment's overhead sprinklers. Fire officials suspected arson, and the apartment manager recognized Godfrey from the surveillance video.

Godfrey was arrested that day for attempted first-degree arson. He was released on his own recognizance after appearing in Superior Court Wednesday.

Boy faces arson charge for house fire

A 13-year-old boy has been arrested allegedly setting fire to a vacant home in north Spokane last month.

The boy was booked into Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center after being arrested at Glover Middle School. He was to appear before a judge on Monday, officials said.

Investigators with the Spokane Fire Department say the boy confessed to setting fire to a home at 4218 N. Ash St. on March 30. Crews quickly extinguished the blaze, which was confined to one bedroom and the roof area above that room. The rest of the home suffered extensive heat and smoke damage.

The suspect faces a charge of first-degree arson.

Reward targets truck fire arson suspect

A man suspected of setting fire to a truck in exchange for methamphetamine as part of a love triangle has a reward being offered for tips that lead to his capture.

Jesse James Icard, 43, is wanted on an arson charge for burning a 1975 Ford truck outside the Maple Tree Motel, 4824 E. Sprague Ave., on Feb. 6.

Police believe Odean B. Chappel, 44, gave Icard methamphetamine in exchange for burning the truck with a Molotov cocktail. Chappel was upset with the truck's owner, Donald S. Goergette, for staying with his ex-girlfriend.

Chappel remains jailed on $50,000 bond for arson and harassment charges. Icard, 5-foot-8 and 135 pounds, is wanted on a $30,000 warrant.

Crime Stoppers on Thursday offered a reward for tips that lead to his arrest.

Icard has a 24-year criminal history that includes convictions for vehicular assault. He last gave an address on Highway 231 in Springdale.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Cigar leads to arrest in July burglary

A cigar left at a burglary scene last summer led detectives on Wednesday to arrest a 21-year-old man as a suspect.

DNA on the cigar that was sent to the state crime lab matched DNA that Trevor Codi Frantz provided when he was convicted of a felony first-degree theft in April 2010, according to court documents.

Detectives seized the cigar while investigating a burglary in the 8500 block of East Cataldo Avenue in Spokane Valley July 30. They believe the burglars used the cigar to try to light the home on fire.

A career criminal now serving life in prison, Larry A. Powell, fired shots at a neighbor who tried to stop the burglary. Powell was arrested shortly after the shooting. He already was wanted for not showing up for the end of his trial for a different robbery case.

Frantz was booked into jail Wednesday about 1 p.m. on charges of attempted first-degree arson and first-degree burglary.

Extremist in fire faced child rape charge

Investigators work the scene where a day earlier Steven Stanbary used a gun to hold off police and firefighters while a house burned to the ground in Washougal, Wash. on Dec. 8. (AP Photo/Zachary Kaufman, Pool)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — A white supremacist with Idaho ties who is suspected of killing his wife and her sister and shooting at firefighters before he died in their burning home on Dec. 7 had been scheduled to surrender the next day to face a child rape charge, authorities said.

 Authorities didn't know before the incident that suspect Steven D. Stanbary of Washougal had a history of being heavily armed, schizophrenic, anti-government and violent, Clark County senior deputy prosecutor Dustin Richardson told The Columbian in a story Thursday.

“Had that been clear, the whole process of having an attorney turn him in … might have been different,” Richardson said.

Before the fire, Richardson had just a basic criminal history that showed Stanbary had only misdemeanor convictions because more serious charges had been reduced by plea bargains or other circumstances.

It was later learned that police in Idaho had discovered six AK-47s and a grenade launcher in Stanbary's possession during a 1994 arrest. But that case was dropped to a minor assault in a plea deal.

In addition, information emerged that Stanbary had stopped receiving treatment for delusional schizophrenia in 1988 when he refused to take medications. At that time, his then-wife, Debra Hughes, told Idaho police she believed he was dangerous.

Richardson said he might have changed his plans for letting Stanbary turn himself in through his attorney if the records had shown a pattern involving weapons. However, police generally don't seek more information on criminal histories of suspects unless the cases show a specific pattern of criminal behavior or dishonesty, he said.

The prosecutors credited the media for bringing those additional details to light after Stanbary's violent death.

Reports released Wednesday show Washougal police suspect Stanbary molested a girl over a number of years beginning when she was 9 and ending several years before she reported it in December 2010.

Richardson had concerns about several aspects of the case and said he didn't believe he had strong enough evidence to charge Stanbury until late November. Stanbary was supposed to turn himself in with an attorney on Dec. 8.

“He obviously had different plans,” Richardson said.

On Dec. 7, gunfire and exploding ammunition kept firefighters away from his burning home. The three bodies were later found inside.

Stanbary's wife, Leona, told police she suspected the girl may have made up the abuse story so she could move out and live with her boyfriend.

“I'll kill him if it happened,” Leona Stanbary told the detective, referring to Steven Stanbary, the police report said.

The girl and her boyfriend said in separate interviews with police that Steven Stanbary was a binge drinker who became nasty when inebriated.

Stanbary was arrested in Bonner County in December 1994 after threatening to kill his ex-wife, children and himself. He was found to have numerous weapons, including AK-47s.

Police: Man tried to light wife on fire

An unemployed Dalton Gardens man allegedly doused his wife with gasoline and tried to light her on fire during a dispute at their home last weekend.

 Daniel Joe Zehm, 52, of 6103 15th St., was taken into custody by Kootenai County sheriff's deputies following an altercation that began Saturday night and culminated with the alleged attempt to incinerate Sondra Zehm, 58.

According to sheriff's reports, the argument began when Daniel Zehm told his wife he thought a nurse at his mother's assisted living place was attractive.

Daniel Zehm allegedly pinned his wife on their bed and threatened to kill her, her dog and her family. He then drenched his wife with a bucket of gasoline when she had her back to him while making coffee the following morning.

Sondra Zehm, who deputies say still smelled of gasoline after a shower, said that her husband was flicking the red lighter she'd given him to light a fire in his shop as he moved toward her.

Zehm was arrested on an attempted murder charge, but it was dismissed today in Kootenai County District Court. He was released from jail on $200,000 for felony charges of burglary and aggravated battery.

Fire at Wal-Mart leads to arson arrest

A man was arrested on a felony arson charge recently for allegedly lighting a fire at the Airway Heights Wal-Mart using sanitation wipes.

Stephen D. Rye, 55, was captured on surveillance video lighting the fire about 4:45 a.m. on Friday and watching it burn until Wal-Mart employees arrived to put it out, according to court documents prepared by Spokane County sheriff's detectives.

Rye was also seen taking the sanitation wipes, which are 65 percent alcohol, from a dispenser at Wal-Mart, lighting them on fire and kicking it down an aisle, igniting Wal-Mart fliers that were on the floor, police allege.

A motive for the alleged crime is unclear. Rye spent the weekend in jail and appeared in Superior Court Monday on a first-degree arson charge.

Burning stolen cars spark brush fire

Two stolen cars were set on fire in the Indian Trial area Wednesday night, sparking a small brush fire.

Spokane firefighters responded to reports of flames and explosions from a remote forested hilltop east of Indian Trial Road.

Crews accessed the area through gates and narrow trail and found the car fully engulfed, with flames spreading to less than an acre of land.

The Spokane Fire Department assisted Fire District 9 in controlling the blaze. No injures were reported.

One car, a 2000 VW Passat, was stolen from a home in the 12000 block of North Hemlock Street on Sunday or Monday.

The other, a 2010 Ford Escape, was stolen from the 600 block of East Lakeview Lane on Friday or Saturday.

Both were taken from garages after the owners left the keys inside, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

The burned cars are pictured courtesy KHQ-TV.

Cops tell gang not to retaliate for arson

WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) — Wenatchee police have contacted a gang that appeared to be the target of a fire that killed two children and warned it not to retaliate.

Sgt. John Kruse says the gang was told retaliation would be very detrimental to solving the homicide.

Chelan County Coroner Wayne Harris says the boys, 4 and 6 years old, died of smoke inhalation.

The Wenatchee World reports the fire is being investigated as arson.

Police say the duplex has been a target of gang activity in the past, but no one in the house at the time of Thursday's fire is believed to be a gang member.

The boys' father suffered serious burns trying to save them and is in a Seattle hospital.

Niece found fit for trial in man’s death

ST. MARIES, Idaho (AP) — A psychologist has found a North Idaho woman is fit to stand trial in the shooting death of her uncle in May.

The Coeur d’Alene Press reports Daniel Hayes of Hayden Lake found 28-year-old Melisa R. Bates could both understand the charge against her and help her attorney with her defense.

Bates is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 43-year-old Robert D. Marek at his house eight miles south of St. Maries. Court records say Bates had been staying with Marek.

Benewah County Prosecutor Douglas Payne said Marek was shot with a handgun and beaten with a metal rod and an attempt was made to burn his body.

Bates is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 22 in St. Maries before Magistrate Patrick McFadden.

Fire suspects left ‘unintended’ message

An “unintended” voice mail left on an arson victim's cell phone helped identify suspects in a Spokane Valley house fire last week.

 The home's renter, Pavel Aleksandrov, said he received what appeared to be an unintentional voice mail on July 23 in which he could hear Sergey A. Kravchenko, 27; Maksim P. Oboznyy, 21, and another man talking about how they should go to his home at 4418 E. 15th Ave., according to court documents.

The rental home was set on fire shortly after, causing $100,000 in damage, and Aleksandrov discovered his television and laptop computer had been stolen. Aleksandrov told police he was the foreman of a construction company in Louisiana in 2009 when the company could not make payroll.

Kravchenko also worked for the company, and he and another employee were upset about what they claimed were lost wages, according to court documents.

Kravchenko and Oboznyy were arrested Friday, and suspect Roman I. Ryakhovskaya, 21, of Nine Mile Falls, turned himself in Saturday. Now Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help arrest a fourth suspect, Aleksander N. Shingarey, 23, (pictured) who is charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree arson.

The three others suspects also are charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree arson; Ryakhovskaya also is charged with first-degree arson; Kravchenko and Oboznyy also are charged with residential burglary and second-degree theft for allegedly stealing a TV and computer before Ryakhovskaya allegedly set house on fire.

A neighbor identified the suspects through photo montages and said he'd fired a shot out his window to try to scare them away after they told him to mind his own business, according to court documents.

Shingarey, who was arrested last summer after a shooting on the South Hill, last gave an address in the 4000 block of East 23rd Avenue in Spokane.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

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