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Beacon Hill fires started by arsonist

Fri., July 15, 2005

For the second time this month, Spokane firefighters have doused arson fires on Beacon Hill.

Crews were called to the hill, north of Minnehaha Park and east of Esmeralda Golf Course, about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. They found four small fires; the largest was about 8 square feet, said Fire Investigator Lt. Chris Phillips.

On July 1, five small fires on Beacon Hill also were extinguished by Spokane firefighters. Witnesses told investigators they saw a person go from location to location where five fires later were discovered.

Investigators say the fires on Wednesday and July 1 were caused by arson – nothing new for Beacon Hill, Phillips said.

“It’s kind of been a thorn in our side for quite some time,” he said.

While the recent fires were kept in check, fire officials note that the hill is near numerous homes and large power lines.

“It’s one of the hottest spots in the whole state,” said Steve Harris, fire prevention coordinator with the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR has responded to 137 fires on Beacon Hill since 1970.

The state responds only to blazes that are large enough that fire districts need its assistance to fight or investigate them.

Beacon Hill is in the jurisdictions of Spokane and Spokane County Fire District 9.

In August 2003, a human-caused wildfire on Beacon Hill threatened homes and burned about 100 acres. A blaze in 2002 burned 50 acres – a fire made more difficult to fight because some of the land had garbage on it that was dumped illegally. Crews cleaning up the 2002 fire also discovered the remnants of methamphetamine labs.


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