August 1, 2009 in Washington Voices

Fire razes house, speads to the neighbor’s attic

Valley Fire receives 13 reports of structure fires last week
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Burn ban

Fire Marshal Kevin Miller noted that the cities of Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake and Millwood have joined Spokane County in imposing bans on open burning until Sept. 15. The bans include recreational fires, but generally exclude backyard barbecue grills and similar devices.

A Spokane Valley home was destroyed by fire last Saturday, killing a dog, and a home shop for an electrical business was razed Wednesday.

The incidents were among 13 reports of structure fires and 245 calls of all types to which the Spokane Valley Fire Department responded in the reporting period that ended Wednesday night.

The home fire, at 3507 S. Ridgeview Drive, was reported at 2:26 a.m. Fire District 8 joined Valley Fire in fighting the blaze, which ignited the side and spread into the attic of an adjacent home.

Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford said firefighters “put a pretty quick stop” on the secondary fire, confining interior damage to the garage area. No estimate of damage to that house was available, but Clifford said the value of the first home was estimated at $450,000.

Investigators were still trying to determine the point of origin and cause of the fire later in the week.

Chief Mike Thompson said occupants of the destroyed home were awakened by what sounded like an explosion. On their way out, he said, they grabbed a neighborhood phone list and called their next-door neighbor to tell him the fire had spread to his house.

The neighbor, who was sleeping in the basement of his home at 3515 S. Ridgeview Drive, also escaped without injury.

Wednesday’s fire in a detached electrical shop at 5414 N. Kenney Road also remained under investigation later in the week. No one was in the shop when it burned about 3:30 a.m., but Clifford said two vehicles and all the owner’s equipment were destroyed.

Clifford said a house at 6024 E. 11th Ave. sustained $10,000 worth of damage from a kitchen fire about noon July 23 that spread smoke throughout the home. He said a woman was heating a pan of oil on the stove when she went outside and forgot about it.

The woman heard her smoke detector and was able to evacuate her children safely, Clifford said.

Also on July 23, fire caused an estimated $2,500 damage to the deck of a home at 2923 N. Maple Road in Millwood.

No one was at home when a neighbor reported the fire at 3:35 p.m.

Clifford said the fire, confined to the deck, was caused by a cigarette someone extinguished earlier in the day in a potted plant.

That’s a frequent cause of fires. Potting soil is flammable because it contains wood fiber.

With vegetation starting to dry out, the number of brush fires rose to nine.

However, one of those was logged when the Spokane Valley Fire Department sent an engine and crew to a large wildfire near Lake Chelan early Wednesday morning as part of a statewide mobilization.

Clifford said three of the small local brush fires were caused by untended camp fires that got out of control.

He said a one-acre fire near the intersection of Fruithill Road and Upriver Drive shortly after 1 a.m. Tuesday was thought to have been caused by a lightning storm, but investigators had second thoughts Wednesday morning when Fire District 9 responded to another brush fire in the same area.

“It could have been kids up there messing around,” Clifford said.

The fires were in the vicinity of the Riblet Mansion, but it wasn’t threatened.

Fire Marshal Kevin Miller noted that the cities of Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake and Millwood have joined Spokane County in imposing bans on open burning until Sept. 15. The bans include recreational fires, but generally exclude backyard barbecue grills and similar devices.

Clifford speculated that warmer weather may have been a factor in some of the six reports of vehicle fires, all of which turned out to be mechanical failures. Most were overheated engines or brakes, he said.

Twenty-three vehicle accidents sent eight people to hospitals for observation of minor injuries, Clifford said.

Other responses included 183 medical emergencies, six automatic alarms that were false or minor, and a strange odor that couldn’t be located.

Four calls for general service involved a couple of small children accidentally locked in cars, a man locked out of his apartment and a person who needed help with a backup oxygen tank during a power failure.

Also in the past week, Spokane Valley firefighters were trained to use seven new heart defibrillators that were developed with their help.

The new machines include a “metronome” pacing beep to control compression ratios that draws from a study in which department members participated.

Clifford said the machines also improve patient care by monitoring carbon monoxide, blood oxygen levels and blood pressure.

He said the Spokane Valley Fire Department is the first fire department in Eastern Washington to deploy the new models.

The department traded in six units and paid $215,000 for the new equipment.

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