October 17, 2009 in Washington Voices

Valley Fire calls did not end too badly

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The past couple of weeks has been a time of “did nots” for the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

A chemical-leak scare at Honeywell Specialty Materials, 15128 E. Euclid Ave., didn’t result in injury – nor any deadly hydrogen cyanide gas. A faulty detector was suspected.

Fires caused by a cigar tossed into landscaping bark next to a deck and a cigarette-caused deck fire didn’t damage either home.

A small grass and timber fire in a Liberty Lake residential area ignited pine needles on a garage roof, but the secondary fire was doused so quickly it didn’t damage the roof.

A smoking Spokane Transit Authority bus didn’t burn. It just had a mechanical problem with its heating system.

And two people stuck in an elevator at the Spokane Valley Mall didn’t need to be rescued.

“The door to the elevator opened, and the persons were set free to shop,” Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford said. “This was at 7 p.m. in the evening, so there was plenty of time left for shopping.”

He said the Honeywell hazardous-materials call at 12:48 a.m. Oct. 6 resulted in the night shift of about 100 employees being sent home while firefighters checked the building and determined there was no leak of chemicals that could create toxic fumes if combined.

The company evacuated and sealed the building when a chemical alarm went off. The Spokane Valley Fire Department called in the Spokane Fire Department hazardous-materials team, which has protective and detection equipment the Spokane Valley department lacks.

Clifford said four members of Honeywell’s emergency response team assisted the investigation.

Incidents that did result in damage included a fire about 3:50 a.m. Oct. 4 that destroyed a detached garage at 13412 E. Fifth Ave. Damage to the garage and contents was estimated at $50,000.

Clifford said the fire was caused by a recreational fireplace on an outer wall of the garage, on a covered concrete patio. The residents didn’t extinguish a fire before going to bed, and winds blew hot coals onto combustible materials.

A neighbor notified the residents, and the fire was confined to the garage. No one was injured.

The garage fire was the most serious of 24 structure fires reported in the 14 days that ended Wednesday night. Including 327 medical emergencies, there were 434 calls for service.

Two of four reported car fires were suspicious. No owner was around when the fires were detected about 7:40 a.m. Oct. 9 near Schuck’s Auto Supply, 4806 E. Sprague Ave., and about 1:25 a.m. Oct. 13 near a home at 15501 E. Wellesley Ave.

A small brush and timber fire at 1:25 a.m. Tuesday on a vacant lot at the corner of Garry Road and Clarke Street in Liberty Lake also was suspicious. That’s the fire that ignited pine needles on a garage roof.

Clifford said flames climbed up trees and reached heights of 20 to 25 feet. Blowing embers started several new spot fires, causing firefighters and Liberty Lake police to warn residents they might need to evacuate.

Two other small brush fires last Saturday remained under investigation.

One burned about 1½ acres at 2513 N. Chase Road in Liberty Lake; the other, about a half-acre at 19115 E. Granite Lane north of Spokane Valley. Clifford said the Granite Lane fire may have been caused by a carelessly dropped cigarette.

He asked anyone with information about the suspicious fires to call the fire department at (509) 928-1700.


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