Voices

Hiker dies; crews go to propane, chimney fires

The past week was fairly slow for the Spokane Valley Fire Department, but one of the 170 calls was a fatal accident.

Spokane Valley resident Stuart Anderson, 56, died around 1 p.m. Monday when he fell off a cliff in the Dishman Hills Natural Area.

Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford said Anderson plummeted more than 100 feet down a sheer rock cliff, with nothing to break his fall.

Anderson had been “geocaching” with his wife – using a GPS locator to find prizes – when he slipped on wet pine needles.

His wife didn’t have a cell phone, and went to a business on Appleway Boulevard to call for help.

The accident was among 136 calls for emergency medical service in the seven-day reporting period that ended Wednesday night.

In addition, 13 vehicle accidents sent seven people to hospitals with head, neck and back pain.

Clifford said a man had suffered minor burns and had his hair and eyebrows singed in a propane flash fire Nov. 13, no first aid was required. Property damage also was minor.

The incident occurred about 10:40 a.m. Nov. 13 at Sun Rental, 16701 E. Sprague Ave. Clifford said the man apparently wanted to refill a propane bottle from his pickup camper at the company’s propane depot.

Clifford said the valve on the propane bottle apparently was open when the man disconnected it from the camper, and the escaping gas was ignited by an appliance pilot light in the camper.

Always turn off pilot lights when traveling with campers, trailers or other recreational vehicles, Clifford advised. Otherwise, an explosive fire can occur at a gasoline station.

There were five minor structure fires.

One was a chimney fire about 12:45 p.m. Wednesday at 24718 Roxanne Ave. in Newman Lake.

Clifford said the homeowner extinguished the fire before firefighters arrived by getting on the roof and spraying water into the chimney with a garden hose. That’s not recommended because the cold water can crack tile liners or chimney masonry.

“After the concrete cracks, the heat has a place to escape and sparks have a place to go, and the next thing you know, you have another chimney fire,” Clifford said.

He said firefighters usually are able to put out chimney fires by directing dry chemical extinguishers up from the firebox.

Another chimney incident occurred about 11 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Longhorn Barbecue, 2315 N. Argonne Road. Clifford said the restaurant has a fire pit “the size of a small car,” and its chimney pipe was blocked by creosote.

Smoke backed up into the restaurant, setting off an alarm that a monitoring company relayed to the fire department. Clifford said damage was minor, and the business opened as usual the next morning.

Most of eight automatic alarms were false, but firefighters found a melted stereo when an alarm summoned them to the Sunshine House, 10412 E. Ninth Ave., about 5:30 p.m. Nov. 13.

Someone had placed a burning candle on the stereo, Clifford said.

About 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, firefighters helped rescue a school bus that got snagged in a low-hanging cable television line in the 13100 block of East Broadway Ave.

Three calls for general service included a broken water main about 11:20 p.m. Wednesday in the 500 block of South Tschirley Road. Firefighters secured the area until a water district crew arrived.

“As they got closer and closer, the water was getting deeper and deeper and deeper,” Clifford said.

He said it appeared no home was damaged, but a sidewalk was dislocated by “pretty severe” soil erosion.



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