October 23, 2009 in City

Two held in fire at building transients used as shelter

Two injured at State Street Flats; seven may face trespass charges
By The Spokesman-Review
 
CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON photo

Spokane firefighters climb the front steps of the State Street Flats at Pacific Avenue and State Street to get at a fire on Thursday.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

On the Web: View a slide show of images from the fire at spokesman.com/ photos.

A man and a woman taken into custody during a downtown blaze Thursday morning are being charged with second-degree arson, Spokane fire officials said.

Windy M. Garland, 22, was arrested as she left the fire at the boarded-up, two-story State Street Flats, 164 S. State St., authorities said.

Steven Sypher, 26, was detained outside the House of Charity, about a block from the fire, which was reported about 9 a.m.

The arrests were made as firefighters mopped up the blaze.

Another woman burned her hand trying to escape the building, authorities said. A man suffered smoke inhalation.

Police said seven people had sought shelter by breaking into the State Street Flats overnight Wednesday to stay out of the rain.

Police said Garland became angry after learning a boyfriend was in the building with someone else. Garland had been released from jail at 7:30 a.m.

Spokane County Jail records indicate Garland was booked into jail Sept. 29 on a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespassing and a community corrections order to hold her.

The seven people who were in the building could face trespassing charges, police said. One other man was held at the scene as a witness.

Most or all of the seven people who had entered the building had been clients at the House of Charity, said Dave Barrett, safety coordinator there.

Police and fire investigators were at the House of Charity interviewing those who escaped.

One of the seven suffered smoke inhalation but did not go to a hospital for treatment. The man declined to talk about what happened.

The two-alarm blaze drew 11 fire rigs and three dozen firefighters to the scene.

The fire was quickly controlled in a first-floor room in the southwest portion of the building and didn’t spread to other parts of the structure, which had smoke damage, Fire Chief Bobby Williams said.

In September 2006, State Street Flats was operating as a 10-unit apartment when a fire ripped through it, displacing several residents.

Four of the residents were taken to area hospitals, including two who jumped from second-floor windows to escape.

Williams said firefighters rescued residents from the building in that blaze.

Damage from the 2006 fire was not repaired and the building was ruled uninhabitable, fire officials said.


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