September 12, 2009 in Washington Voices

‘Unbearable’ odor was marijuana

By The Spokesman-Review
 

After several weeks, a strange odor finally became “unbearable” for a Liberty Lake apartment dweller who called the Spokane Valley Fire Department for help.

Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford said Liberty Lake police joined firefighters on the Sept. 1 call to the Big Trout Lodge Apartments at 22809 Country Vista Drive. When the emergency workers arrived shortly before midnight, they too smelled something odd.

Clifford said the “unusual burning odor” was traced to a downstairs apartment where a woman was smoking marijuana. The police took it from there, he said.

The call was one of 443 to which the fire department responded in a 14-day period that ended Wednesday night. Emergency medical service accounted for 339 of the calls.

Seventeen structure fires were reported, including an Aug. 29 incident in which one of three arson-caused brush fires burned a boat about 3 a.m. and threatened a garage in the 600 block of North Long Road. Clifford said the fires were within a few hundred yards of each other.

The fires were still under investigation this week, and no value had been determined for the boat. Clifford appealed for anyone with information about the arsons to call the fire department at (509) 928-1700.

Also on Aug. 29, an unrelated fire was reported about 4:20 a.m. in the attached garage of a home at 19318 E. Main Ave. Clifford said a neighbor banged on the front door of the house to alert the family of three who lived there, and no one was injured.

There was light smoke throughout the house, but the fire was confined to the garage, Clifford said. Investigators believe the fire was caused by a halogen lamp that was accidentally tipped over near combustible materials. No damage estimate was available.

Seven vehicle fires included a couple of motor homes and a “fully involved” riding lawnmower in the middle of a yard. Clifford didn’t know whether anyone was on the mower when it burst into flames on Aug. 28, but no one was injured.

Children playing with matches were blamed for two small grass and brush fires in which Clifford asked anyone with information to call the fire department.

The first, at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday at the corner of Jackson and Fox lanes, damaged a construction trailer.

The second, at 12:46 p.m. Wednesday near 2424 N. Cherry Court, was in an area of former Walk in the Wild zoo property where deliberately set fires are common. Children climb over a fence or cut their way through it to trespass on the site, Clifford said.

“We don’t really have a solution other than people not allowing kids to play with lighters,” he said.

In all, eight brush fires were reported but only five were found, Clifford said. In one case, what was thought to be smoke in the 5700 block of North Progress Road turned out to be a dust devil.

None of five hazardous-materials responses proved serious, but one could have been. A resident of the East Trent Mobile Park at 4105 N. McDonald Road had been using a propane stove to heat his trailer and a valve remained open when the burner went out, Clifford said.

“It’s flirting with disaster,” he said.

Thirty-two vehicle accidents sent 11 people to hospitals, one with life-threatening injuries.

Clifford said a man was airlifted from a three-car collision Aug. 30 at 24706 E. Wellesley Ave. He said the man apparently wasn’t wearing a seat belt, and was thrown from his vehicle when it rolled several times at high speed.

No one in the other vehicles was seriously injured in the late-morning crash.

Another rollover crash occurred Sept. 4 about 7:15 a.m. on Interstate 90 near the Appleway Road interchange. Clifford said a woman was thrown from her westbound pickup when it veered off the freeway and knocked down several guardrail posts and a traffic sign.

She was hospitalized with head, neck, back and abdominal injuries.

Four people were taken to hospitals in three ambulances about 5:20 p.m. Tuesday when two pickups collided head-on in the 800 block of North University Road. None of the injuries was life-threatening, Clifford said.

In separate accidents, three children were hit by cars while riding bicycles or skateboards. Clifford urged motorists to watch out for children making their way to and from school.

Kids should be vigilant, too, he said. Having the right of way doesn’t help when car meets skateboard.

Eleven calls for general service included putting a fallen boat back on its trailer, freeing a man whose motorized wheelchair got stuck in his backyard, and helping other authorities remove two deceased people from homes. There also were five kids locked in cars, a broken water main and a backed-up sewage pipe.

For sewer and septic-tank problems, it’s best to call a plumber in the first place, Clifford said. Firefighters don’t do sewage.


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