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Blaze forces evacuation of juvenile jail

A fire forced the evacuation of inmates from their cells Saturday afternoon at the Spokane Juvenile Justice Center.

The blaze, which was confined to a laundry room, was the second fire in the last year at the justice center, which houses the jail, court and other criminal justice services for minors.

Firefighters were called to the building about 2:50 p.m. after center employees and parents visiting inmates noticed smoke.

“We had visitation going on,” said Dennis Crumley, the detention center’s shift supervisor. “All of a sudden we started seeing smoke.”

The jail’s 51 inmates were evacuated to a walled, open-air area of the building.

Firefighters doused the blaze with an extinguisher upon their arrival, said Spokane Fire Battalion Chief Craig Cornelius.

Some smoke entered the detention area, and inmates were kept outside for about an hour and a half while smoke cleared, Crumley said.

The fire started in a commercial dryer and was contained to the room. Cause of the fire probably will not be determined because doing so would require extensive laboratory tests, Cornelius said.

“It could have been lint, or it could have been a bad motor,” Cornelius said.

Saturday’s fire was much less serious than the November fire that caused more than $100,000 in damage to a second-floor justice center wing used by juvenile probation officers.

Fire investigators said at the time that the blaze may have burned for an hour undetected because there were no smoke detectors in that part of the justice center.

Cornelius said there was a smoke detector in the laundry room.



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