July 11, 2009 in Washington Voices

Exhausted donkey ‘doing fine’ after fall into a well

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The Spokane Valley Fire Department can count a very grateful donkey as one of its fans after the department’s technical rescue team pulled the animal from a well last week.

The department received a call about the animal just before noon July 1 from a home on Sunderland Drive in the Ponderosa neighborhood. The animal had somehow fallen rump first into a well about five feet deep.

“It was kind of in a vertical position,” said assistant fire marshal Bill Clifford.

Vets were on hand to treat the animal after it was hoisted out with ropes. Photos show bloody injuries on its legs probably caused during attempts to get out of the hole.

“The donkey was just physically exhausted,” Clifford said. “My understanding is that the donkey is doing fine.”

Firefighters helped a man and a woman injured in an early morning hit-and-run accident near 14206 E. Rockwell on June 26. The woman was severely injured and the man had broken bones, Clifford said. The 19-year-old woman died several days later. An arrest has been made in the case.

A rash of fires kept firefighters busy June 25 to July 8. A total of 13 structure fires were reported, and three were serious. The exterior of a home at 1211 S. Marigold Road caught fire the morning of July 1, causing $15,000 in damage. No cause could be determined, but cigarette butts were found in the area. “We don’t know what caused it,” Clifford said. “It’s kind of uncommon for the outside of a building to catch fire.”

In other news, a fire at the Spokane Valley Mall was called in by security guards at 6:30 a.m. July 6. Nine trucks and 31 firefighters fought the fire, which damaged part of the roof near the Tilt Arcade. The fire was apparently caused by a failed neon light. Three businesses in the mall sustained smoke damage and had to shut down temporarily.

In another fire, the damage could have been a lot worse if not for a timely visit to a resident of the Valley 206 Apartment at 2400 N. Wilbur Road on July 8. A man who is on oxygen fell asleep while smoking in bed, Clifford said. He awoke to find his bedding on fire just as his nephew arrived to check on him. “The nephew was able to get both of them out of the apartment,” Clifford said. The man, who uses a wheelchair, received only a slight burn on his left hand.

Eighteen brush fires were also reported during the two-week period. A vehicle fire on Driftwood Drive spread to surrounding dry grass, but passersby extinguished the flames before firefighters arrived. The fires were small and most were along busy roads.

“There’s a lot of dry grass,” Clifford said. “Someone could have flicked a cigarette out there.”

Four of the brush fires were behind an apartment complex on Mansfield just east of Pines. “The terrain is pretty rough,” Clifford said. “It’s all chained off. Most of the time we end up cutting a chain link fence (to get in).”

The fires were caused by human activity, but it’s not known if they were set deliberately. “There are a lot of transients up there,” he said. “Kids in the apartment complex go up there to smoke and not get caught. It is a problem place for us.”

Clifford said he plans to visit the apartment complex next week to speak to residents about the importance of fire safety in that area.

The department responded to 348 emergency medical service calls and 33 car accidents that sent 15 people to the hospital. One of the accidents involved a bus loaded with 47 children and eight adults near Broadway and Sullivan. “Washington State Patrol was on the scene and wanted the kids checked out,” Clifford said. None of the children were injured.

On July 2 firefighters responded to help a man hit by a train at 15100 E. Trent at 3:14 a.m. A female companion told firefighters the man had been drunk and depressed and had deliberately stepped in front of the train, Clifford said. The extent of his injuries isn’t known. “He was in and out of consciousness,” he said.

There were 14 service calls that included a customer locked inside a bathroom at the Jiffy Lube on Sullivan.

Two kids were reported locked inside a vehicle with the windows rolled up at the Liberty Lake Safeway on June 28.

“The kids were very warm,” Clifford said. “The scene was turned over to the Liberty Lake police.”

With the increase in fires as trees and grasses continue to dry out, Clifford wants to mark the one-year anniversary of the Valley View Fire by reminding people to be responsible with recreational fires.

“Make sure your fire is completely extinguished before leaving,” he said.

Residents can call the department at (509) 928-1700 for information on the best way to put out a recreational fire.


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