October 18, 2008 in Voices

Crews respond to chimney fires

By The Spokesman-Review

A sign of the season, Spokane Valley firefighters responded to two chimney-related fires in the seven days that ended Wednesday.

One of them caused an estimated $40,000 in damage.

That fire occurred about 6:30 a.m. Sunday at 4215 N. Progress Road. Deputy Fire Marshal Bill Clifford said the occupants were awakened by the smell of smoke before it could set off a smoke detector.

A similar fire occurred about three hours later at 4205 N. Harvard Road, causing undetermined damage inside a wall. No one was injured in that fire, either.

In both cases, Clifford said, walls apparently were ignited by heat or flames from chimneys.

He said cracks in chimney masonry, especially in older chimneys that don’t have protective liners, often allow fire and heat to damage and over time ignite the surrounding wood.

Regular maintenance by chimney professionals can help prevent such fires, Clifford said. Some companies use small video cameras to look for cracks in chimneys, he said.

The chimney fires were among 12 structure fires to which the department responded.

One of several brush-type fires also was related to wood heating. Clifford said a pile of yard waste at 24707 E. Kildea Ave. was ignited Oct. 10 when ashes from a wood stove were added to the pile.

Another brush fire, at 17223 E. Coach Drive on Sunday, was caused by two brothers who ignited a bush while playing with cigarette lighters. Fire officials had a talk with them and their parents, Clifford said.

He said firefighters returning from a call on Oct. 10 saw smoke and found a slow-moving brush fire next to the railroad tracks near 16th Avenue and Dishman-Mica Road. The cause of the 30-by-30-foot fire couldn’t be determined.

Twelve vehicle accidents in the period included one on Oct. 10 in which a 55-year-old woman fell from a median strip in the 13500 block of East Sprague and was struck by a car. She was hospitalized in critical condition.

Two other people were sent to hospitals by other accidents. In one, a Jeep crashed into the Safeco building at 14610 E. Sprague on Tuesday, breaking windows in the building.

The driver was unresponsive when an ambulance crew arrived, but firefighters had no other information on his condition.

Two of five calls for general service involved children locked in vehicles, and a third involved a boy locked inside a bedroom.

Clifford said the boy’s mother had knocked a hole in the door by the time firefighters arrived. No other information was available.

Firefighters also were summoned to a broken Pasadena Park Irrigation District water main at 9500 E. Maringo Drive.

Other calls included four minor hazardous-materials reports, 18 false or minor alarm-system calls and 156 calls for emergency medical service.

In all, there were 210 calls.

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