February 7, 2009 in Washington Voices

Trash fire outside Hooters among calls for the week

By The Spokesman-Review
Courtesy of Spokane Valley Fire Department photo

A pickup T-boned a minivan Thursday at the intersection of Vista Road and Broadway Avenue and wound up parked where a duplex resident’s car had been parked before it was pushed out of the way. Firefighters cut the passenger door off the van to remove a man. No one was seriously injured. Courtesy of Spokane Valley Fire Department
(Full-size photo)

Many guys might not blame Spokane Valley firefighters if they were disappointed to find a trash-bin fire when they rushed to an East Indiana Avenue address Wednesday night. The bin was outside the Hooters Restaurant.

“They didn’t get to go in,” Deputy Fire Marshal Bill Clifford said.

He said the Jan. 31 fire was considered suspicious.

It was among seven reports of “structure fires” in the seven days that ended Wednesday night.

An actual structure fire about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday caused heavy damage to the ACI Coatings building at 11406 E. Montgomery Ave. Clifford said some 30 firefighters with eight trucks took about 20 minutes to contain the fire in the back of the nearly new building.

No one was in the building, and no one was injured.

Clifford said the cause remained under investigation later in the week, and no damage estimate was available. He said fire damage was confined to the rear of the building, which had heavy smoke damage throughout.

In one of several calls that reprised the some of the previous week’s activities, firefighters responded to a “vehicle fire” that turned out to be an overheated engine.

Another déjÀ vu moment occurred Wednesday when firefighters were called back to a home at 12007 E. Maxwell Ave. that burned on Jan. 27. A cleanup contractor noticed that a tree in the backyard was smoldering.

Clifford didn’t know whether it was the same tree on which the homeowner accidentally banged his head after safely escaping the burning home. Firefighters doused the tree, and the contractor planned to remove it Thursday.

The 183 calls in the current reporting period included a couple of unusual traffic accidents.

About 12:40 p.m. Tuesday a woman driving north on University Road demolished her Jeep Grand Cherokee when it rolled after she accidentally drove it up the icy snow berm at the edge of the road. The woman was trapped inside the overturned vehicle until firefighters freed her.

She was taken to a hospital with injuries that weren’t considered life-threatening.

Another quirky crash occurred about 8:15 a.m. Wednesday at the intersection of Vista Road and Broadway Avenue, which is controlled by traffic lights. A pickup T-boned a minivan and wound up in the driveway of a duplex at 807 N. Vista Road – where the resident’s car had been before it was swept out of the way.

The minivan came to rest in the front yard while the owner’s unoccupied car was sideways in front of the pickup.

Clifford said the pickup driver suffered an ankle injury, but declined transportation to a hospital. The woman who had been driving the minivan got out on her own, but was taken to a hospital as a precaution. Her husband also was taken to a hospital for observation after firefighters cut away the passenger door to extricate him.

Traffic was blocked or restricted for an hour. Clifford didn’t know who was at fault in the accident.

The crashes were among 14 vehicle accidents in which six people were taken to hospitals with injuries that were moderate at worst.

One of three hazardous-materials responses brought the Spokane Fire Department’s hazmat team to Valley Hospital and Medical Center Wednesday afternoon. A Liberty Lake bank employee had driven herself to the hospital after suffering a rash she thought might have been related to a deposit envelope she had handled.

Clifford said the woman was working at the Sterling Savings Bank branch at 21601 E. Country Vista Drive in Liberty lake when she received a cash envelope through the drive-up window. Soon afterward, she suffered a rash on her hands that she thought might have been caused by a chemical on the envelope.

Protocols required a hazardous-materials response to ensure safety at the hospital and bank, Clifford said. He said firefighters and Liberty Lake police cordoned off the bank while the Spokane Fire Department hazmat team tested the deposit envelope, the cash and the woman’s hands.

No chemical was found, and the woman’s rash got better, Clifford said.

Another employee was the only other person in the bank when the three-hour incident began.

The Spokane hazmat team was called because the Spokane Valley Fire Department doesn’t have one. Clifford said Spokane Valley firefighters have hazardous-materials training, but lack the specialized equipment and training of the Spokane team.

No specialization was needed for two other hazmat calls. In one case, odors from an apartment undergoing renovation proved harmless. In the other, firefighters closed the valve to a natural gas meter that was damaged when a vehicle bumped it.

Firefighters had to walk away from the week’s only call for general service. Clifford said a homeowner called for help with a sewer line that had backed up into his basement, thinking firefighters are equipped to deal with water problems.

“We educated the homeowner that we don’t have those tools on our trucks and we don’t do sewage,” Clifford said. “We do put out porta-potties, though.”

In the previous week, firefighters extinguished the flaming remnants of a plastic outhouse that someone set afire.

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

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