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Minor calls keep firefighters busy

The number of calls received by the Spokane Valley Fire Department in the last week was up a bit, but there were no major fires or serious injuries.

Of the 15 structure fires reported, all turned out to be minor, said assistant fire marshal Bill Clifford. “I don’t think there was anything even worth $500 in damage,” he said. There a few backyard fires reported and several false fire alarms but only one minor hazardous materials call. “It was not broccoli,” said Clifford, referring to a Christmas Day call for a natural gas odor that turned out to be the vegetable instead.

Nine accidents were reported, and two people were sent to the hospital with minor injuries.

The department also assisted the sheriff’s office with a call on McDonald Road involving a man who reportedly made a volatile explosive compound. Firefighters were standing by “just in case there was an explosion,” Clifford said.

The department recently released numbers for the total number of calls in 2009 compared to 2008. The number was down a little more than 5 percent, at 10,953 in 2009 and 11,594 in 2008.

That difference probably has something to do with the huge snowstorm that hit in December 2008, said Clifford. “We had quite a few broken sprinkler lines because they had frozen, then all the collapsing buildings,” he said. “During that storm we had a lot of motor vehicle collisions. We had a lot of people slipping and falling on ice.”

Some types of calls were up slightly in 2009, including structure fires and extrications. The cities of Liberty Lake and Millwood also saw an overall increase.