Dad evacuates kids from burning home

A father got his two children out of their burning home before calling Spokane Valley firefighters to the worst of eight recently reported structure fires.

Deputy Fire Marshal Bill Clifford said the father woke up about 1:30 a.m. on April 16 to discover fire in his bedroom in a home at 814 S. Best Road. After getting the children to safety, the man returned for the family dog and his cell phone.

Clifford said the man used the cell phone to call for help, and the dog escaped on its own.

After he took his children to a neighbor’s home for shelter, the man was taken to a hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation. There were no other injuries, Clifford said.

He said the fire was caused by an undetermined electrical problem in the wall of the master bedroom.

The incident was among 205 calls to which the Spokane Valley Fire Department responded in the seven days that ended Wednesday evening. Seven other structure fires were minor.

Other fire calls included six reports of brush fires. Five of those turned out to be illegal outdoor fires, mainly people burning trash, Clifford said.

One of the calls involved three small fires in a wooded area near the 12600 block of Mirabeau Parkway, behind the YMCA on Discovery Place, about 6 p.m. Wednesday. The area was fenced, but firefighters cut a chain to open a gate, Clifford said.

He said the Fire Department is considering posting signs in the area because of numerous fires believed to have been set by children or transients. The signs would warn that fires are illegal in the area, and would invite people to report suspicious activity.

“Last summer, we responded weekly to fires up there,” Clifford said.

Another illegal fire, reported about 11 p.m. April 18, involved a group of teenagers who built a campfire on the north bank of the Spokane River, near Sullivan Road.

Spokane Valley police were questioning the youths when firefighters arrived. Burning isn’t allowed in that area, Clifford said.

Ten vehicle accidents in the period sent five people to hospitals with minor injuries, including a woman who was struck by a car Wednesday night. Clifford said the woman was walking across the 14600 block of East Sprague Avenue, outside a crosswalk or controlled intersection, when she was struck by a car going 30 to 35 mph.

The woman was taken to Valley Hospital and Medical Center with abrasions on her right knee and left hand but no sign of significant trauma, Clifford said.

“It sounds like she got pretty lucky in that one,” he said.

Firefighters also responded to three hazardous-materials reports, including a mysterious oil slick that covered the southbound lane of Park Road for 300 feet south of Trent Avenue.

Clifford said the other two hazmat calls were for broken natural gas lines. A backhoe ruptured a line Tuesday at 14928 E. Eighth Ave., a day after another line was dug up at 7011 E. Mission Ave.

Avista Utilities advises calling 811 or (800) 424-5555 two days before starting projects that could unearth utility lines. Assistance in locating buried lines also may be requested online at www.callbeforeyoudig.org.

In other calls in the Wednesday-to-Wednesday reporting period, Clifford said the Spokane Valley Fire Department responded to 17 automatic alarms, all false or minor, 157 medical emergencies, a child locked in a vehicle and a noisy water heater.

John Craig may be contacted at johnc@spokesman.com.

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