February 12, 1998 in Washington Voices

‘Peto’ Saves Herself, Guardian From Fire

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A Spokane woman is grateful for “Peto.”

Margaret “Peto” Rice is 82-years-old, has the mind of a child and the vocabulary of a toddler. As a dwarf, she’s just 3-feet-8-inches tall.

But last week, Rice may have saved her own life and that of her guardian, Diana Pollin, when she alerted Pollin that their house was on fire.

The blaze started at their home on the 2700 block of East Joseph at 3:30 a.m. on Feb. 3., according to the Spokane Fire Department.

Blankets were left on top of a dryer which sat next to space heater, said Lt. Mike Zambryski.

“Incidences like these are not uncommon during this time of the year,” Zambryski said.

Rice, who Pollin believes had gotten up to use the bathroom, alerted Pollin that something was wrong in the house.

“She had her hand up to her ear and was saying, ‘Mama Day, Mama Day,”’ Pollin said.

“I thought she was trying to tell me the phone was ringing,” Pollin said. “I told her to go back to bed.”

At Rice’s insistence, Pollin finally got up to see what was wrong.

The two women then stepped into the kitchen and discovered that it was filling with smoke.

“I couldn’t believe it, both (smoke) alarms were blaring,” Pollin said. “I was so tired, I didn’t even hear them.”

Fire and smoke damage to the house was estimated at $950. But the smoke damage was so severe that Pollin and Rice moved to a new home.

Suspect outnumbered

A man picked a store where the clerk had a half dozen friends nearby early Saturday morning.

The suspect entered the Quik Stop convenience store at 3021 E. Wellesley at about 2:20 a.m. The man began hiding beer cans in his jacket and trousers. Two of the clerk’s friends told the clerk, who confronted the man, police spokesman Dick Cottam said.

The clerk had his friend lock the front doors of the store, and when the man couldn’t leave, he began yelling and kicking at the door, Cottam said.

He broke a glass panel, but other friends of the clerk were in the parking lot and held him until police arrived, Cottam said.

Police identified the suspect as Matthew J. Porterfield, 26, who gave his address as 802 E. Vicksburg. Porterfield was booked into jail on a charge of malicious mischief.

Juvenile arrest for gun possession

Some Rogers High School students and staff members helped diffuse a potentially dangerous situation near the school on Feb. 4, involving a student with a gun.

At 8:25 a.m., two Rogers students were involved in a fight at the intersection of Pittsburg and Wellesley, according to Spokane School District spokesperson Terren Roloff.

Students who witnessed the altercation later notified school officials. At the end of the school day, the two combatants again squared off at the same intersection, she said.

School officials suspended one student and the other was expelled for at least a year for having a gun within 1000 feet of the school, Roloff said. Police arrested the juvenile for gun possession.

, DataTimes


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