August 15, 2009 in Washington Voices

House fire traced to potted plant

By The Spokesman-Review
 

An improperly discarded cigarette caused at least one fire in Spokane Valley last week and possibly two.

Someone tried to put a cigarette out in a potted plant during the afternoon of Aug. 8 at 5620 N. Vista Grande Drive. People often don’t realize that potting soil contains wood products and is flammable, said assistant fire marshal Bill Clifford. The cigarette often smolders for hours before bursting into flame.

“We see, in the summertime, at least one a week,” Clifford said of the potting soil fires. “That’s not counting the ones out there that we never get called out to.”

The home sustained about $20,000 in damage.

A fire at 23605 E. Sprague Ave., in Liberty Lake on Aug. 11 doesn’t have an official cause, but firefighters suspect a cigarette discarded into landscaping bark was the culprit, Clifford said. Several bushes and trees were consumed and the house was slightly damaged.

Among the district’s 228 calls from Aug. 6-12 were four brush fires, all of which were small and easily put out. Firefighters also advised residents of one home to put out a backyard recreational fire because of the burn ban in effect. The fire department was also called to a report of smoke that turned out to be the barbecue of an overly enthusiastic backyard griller.

The storm on Aug. 6 caused several fire calls that turned out to be electrical transformer fires or downed power lines sparking in dry grass.

The department responded to 14 building alarms, all false or minor, and 165 emergency medical response calls. There were 14 vehicle accidents that sent seven people to the hospital with minor or nonlife-threatening injuries.

There were two reported vehicle lockouts involving kids in cars, a regular occurrence for firefighters. “They should be called lock-ins,” Clifford said.

On Aug. 10 a caller reported a child climbing a tree behind the Arby’s at 10407 E. Sprague Ave., who was unable to get down. “We were able to get a ladder in there” and the child was rescued, Clifford said.

Firefighters also responded briefly to a report of a car submerged in the river off Donkey Island on Aug. 9. No people were in evidence so firefighters were sent back to their station while the Spokane County Sheriff’s dive team responded to investigate, Clifford said.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email