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Officials report fire death, freeway fall

Spokane Valley firefighters dealt with a fatal incident and one that easily could have been fatal in the weekly reporting period that ended Wednesday night.

Firefighters revived 64-year-old Sandra L. Personett after pulling her from her burning apartment shortly before 5 a.m. last Saturday, but she died later that day at Sacred Heart Medical Center. Deputy Fire Marshal Bill Clifford said Personett suffered smoke inhalation and burns to her arms, torso and legs.

Clifford said firefighters were called to the Tschirley Crossing Apartments, 107 S. Tschirley Road, by a neighbor who heard Personett yelling and then discovered her apartment door was hot.

The fire, which caused an estimated $50,000 damage to the apartment, was caused by a cigarette, Clifford said. Personett was alone when the fire broke out.

Shortly after 4 a.m. Sunday, firefighters responded to the eastbound lanes of Interstate 90, where a man either fell or jumped from the Argonne Road overpass. The Washington State Patrol said 23-year-old Spokane-area resident Nicholas P. Youngman was struck by a Montana woman’s car.

Clifford said Youngman was taken to Sacred Heart Medical Center with two broken legs. The hospital listed Youngman in satisfactory condition Thursday.

The fatal fire was among nine reported structure fires, while the Youngman incident was listed among 16 vehicle accidents that sent four people to hospitals. Two of the injured were bicyclists struck by cars on Tuesday.

A 50-year-old man complained of a possible broken hand after being hit about 12:30 p.m. while riding in the 9100 block of East Knox Avenue, and a 15-year-old boy suffered hand, shoulder and chin abrasions in a crash about 3:35 p.m. in the 300 block of North Argonne Road.

No further details on either collision were available.

Spokane Valley Fire Department investigators arrested a 19-year-old man Tuesday on suspicion of arson in a Sunday fire that caused an estimated $2,500 damage to Adams Elementary School, 14707 E. Eighth Ave. Clifford said the suspect, Robbie W. Bishop, was identified through witness reports and surveillance videos.

At least four juveniles also are believed to have been involved in setting the fire in a trash can outside one of the school’s entrances about 10:30 p.m., and Clifford said the case remained under investigation late this week.

The fire was extinguished by two exterior fire sprinklers. Clifford said the sprinklers kept the fire from entering the building through soffits, but water seeped into the building and damaged it. He said the fire was intense because of a rubber coating on the metal-mesh trash can.

Firefighters also responded to 160 medical emergencies, nine false or minor building alarms and two reports of vehicle fires, one of which turned out to be a pickup with an oil leak.

Clifford said three hazardous-materials responses involved a natural gas leak, a propane odor whose source couldn’t be located and a gasoline odor in a home that probably was caused by a lawnmower in the attached garage.

Three cases in which firefighters gave general service included a child locked in a vehicle and someone locked out of an apartment because of a faulty latch. Clifford said firefighters used a ladder to reach an open balcony door in the apartment lockout.

In the third assist, an engine crew driving on Trent Avenue saw a trailer come unhitched from a pickup. Clifford said the crew helped the motorist reattach the trailer “and he was on his way.”