A rental home that neighbors said has been a source of problems for more than a decade burst into flames Friday night in the West Central neighborhood.
Firefighters were called to the burning home at 2519 W Boone Ave. about 8:50 p.m., and once inside spotted items that caused crews to suspect the house may have been converted into a toxic meth lab. Those who entered were decontaminated as a precaution, said Spokane Fire Battalion Chief Joel Fielder
Neighbors across the street said they saw several people fleeing from the house after flames began shooting out windows – threatening another home.
“I saw them run down the street that way,” said Deion Smith, pointing west down Boone. “It was crazy.”
Fielder said power to the home had been cut off long before the fire, and red tape had been place over the meter by the power company.
Cause of the fire in under investigation, Fielder said.
“It really eliminates a lot of possibilities as far as fire goes if there is no electricity,” Fielder said.
Fielder said witnesses reported the tenants of the home, who have been identified but not named, running from the house after the fire broke out. None of those individuals had been located by late Friday.
Property owners George and Annie Mae Farag were interviewed outside the smoking home by a fire investigator.
“They said, ‘Do you know what a meth lab is.’ I said, `no. I’ve never used drugs all my life. I don’t know what it is,’” George Farag said. “I hear about that, but I don’t know what it is.”
Farag said he has rented the home to two men and a woman for about eight months. He said he gave them notice about three weeks ago that they would be evicted for not paying rent.
Earlier on Friday, he stopped by the home and said that the renters told him they were packing and would be out within two days, Farag said.
Neighbor Chad Wright, 19, whose father owns a nearby home, said he was in his upstairs bedroom when he saw the smoke and flames. He ran outside and put a garden hose on his house to keep the fire from spreading. Wright said the home has been “very busy,” with people coming and going frequently.
“It’s been a problem for about 10 years,” Wright said. That it burned “is a kind of a good thing.”