Poor pizza prep brings fire department

With smoke coming out of an apartment Monday and no one responding to their knocks, Spokane Valley firefighters were just about to break down the door.

Other tenants at the Applewood Apartments, 4403 E. Eighth Ave., evacuated when the alarm sounded, but the tenant of the smoking apartment didn’t respond even when someone telephoned him.

Finally, the man opened the door and explained that he was confused and didn’t realize the knocking was on his door. Firefighters said he had several medical conditions that made his answer plausible.

It turned out that the man was just baking a pizza – without removing the cardboard tray or the plastic wrapper.

“The fire was contained to the oven, and the pizza was thrown in the Dumpster,” Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford said. “It looks like our engine crew explained that, when you cook a pizza, you take it out of the wrapper.”

Another of seven structure fires reported in the seven days that ended Wednesday evening occurred last Saturday at the Thermoguard distribution center at 125 N. Dyer Road.

An automatic sprinkler system was suppressing the fire when crews arrived shortly after 11:10 p.m. The building, unoccupied at the time, sustained no structural damage.

Clifford said a machine malfunction earlier in the day had ignited some cellulose insulation. Workers thought they had extinguished the fire, and the burned insulation was baled with other waste materials.

The fire wasn’t completely out, though, and the bale caught fire and spread to other insulation products and wooden pallets.

Elsewhere, there were 12 false automatic alarms.

In all, the fire department responded to 196 calls, 151 of which were medical emergencies.

Three brush fires were reported, but one turned out to be a legal recreational fire. The other two both were in the 4700 block of Barker Road, just north of Trent Avenue.

The first, about 1:30 p.m. Oct. 16, involved a large pile of trash, hay and tree limbs burning on a hillside. Clifford said the property owner had dumped fireplace embers on the pile, “which is not recommended.”

Then, about 4:50 p.m. Wednesday, firefighters were called to an untended, smoldering slash pile in the same area. A state Department of Natural Resources permit had been issued to burn the pile, but the permit required someone to watch the fire until it was completely dead.

Clifford didn’t know whether the two fires were related.

Five similar calls turned out to be illegal yard waste fires. The people responsible for them “were educated” about the law, Clifford said.

Firefighters also responded to nine vehicle collisions that sent five people to hospitals with moderate to severe injuries that weren’t life-threatening.

There were six calls for general service, including a broken water main and five people locked in or out of vehicles or homes.

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