The Spokane Valley Fire Department is having trouble convincing people that potted plants don’t make good ashtrays.
A proper ashtray is fireproof, but potting soil burns because it contains wood fiber.
Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford took leaflets with that message to the Parkside at Mirabeau Point apartment complex earlier this summer.
Nevertheless, firefighters found a cigarette in a smoldering flowerpot when they were called to a balcony fire at the complex at 2820 N. Cherry Street at 12:25 a.m. last Saturday.
Damage was confined to the overheated plant, “but it could have been a lot worse if it had gone unnoticed,” Clifford said.
No one was home at the time, so Clifford plans to pay a visit when he goes back to the apartment complex with more leaflets.
The call was one of eight minor structure fires in the reporting week that ended Wednesday night. In all categories, there were 220 calls.
Three vehicle fires were reported, but two were just malfunctioning engines. The third was being investigated as a possible arson.
Firefighters found a fully engulfed Geo Storm when they were called to 1621 S. Balfour Blvd. Monday morning, seconds after midnight. Clifford said the fire started inside the abandoned vehicle.
He asked anyone with information about the fire to call (509) 928-1700.
Clifford also appealed for information about a suspicious brush fire near 14317 E. Mission Ave. on Sunday. He said the fire may have been started by transients.
“It’s in an area where they roam,” he said.
That fire and another one on Sunday, in the 6900 block of East 14th Avenue, rekindled the next day and had to be doused again. Clifford said the fires apparently smoldered under pine needles until they reached areas with enough oxygen for them to flare up.
Two 12-year-old boys admitted starting the fire on 14th Avenue, and will be referred to the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office for possible charges, Clifford said.
There were 21 vehicle collisions that sent five people to hospitals with moderate injuries. The worst was a motorcycle crash shortly before 11 p.m. Sept. 24 at 21460 E. Mission Ave.
Clifford said the motorcycle failed to negotiate a curve and struck a curb. The rider, who was not completely alert, was treated for a possible head injury and a possible broken wrist.
Other calls included 163 medical emergencies, 14 false building alarms, a natural gas odor that firefighters couldn’t locate, a furnace problem and three children locked inside vehicles.