The wind storm that blew through the area on Monday scattered Spokane Valley Fire crews across the areas like they were leaves tossed in the wind.
The fire department responded to 40 calls on Monday, 20 of them at the height of the wind storm between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Crews usually respond to about only 20 calls per day, said Fire Marshal Kevin Miller. “What it ended up doing was making us crazy,” he said.
The department was stretched so thin it activated its Certified Emergency Response Team of volunteers. They were able to respond to some calls of downed power lines to keep traffic and people away from the lines until power company crews could fix them. “It relieved us so we could go to other calls,” Miller said.
One of the more interesting calls was at Devries Moving in the Industrial Park on Sullivan. “They had a large stack of pallets that blew over in the wind and landed on a 500-pound propane tank,” Miller said. The tank was damaged and began to leak, requiring the evacuation of the business and the nearby La Quinta Inn.
At 2 p.m. a duplex located behind Station 1 was hit by a tree from a neighbor’s yard that blew over. Damage was minor and no one was injured, Miller said. At 3 p.m. a tree fell down over Argonne Road and took a power line down with it, landing on a car. “(The driver) was scared to get out because of the power line,” Miller said.
The road was shut down between Maringo and Upriver for an hour until the mess could be cleaned up. While crews were there a tree landed on the Argonne Library, causing some damage.
“In the middle of all that, we get a call to go check out some white powder,” Miller said. Someone at the Spokane Valley Library on Main reported finding a clear bag filled with a white powder.
“Of course the nearest truck had to come from Greenacres,” he said. Police also responded and took possession of the bag.
The rest of the last two weeks was routine, with a total of 430 calls between April 21 and May 5. There was a small basement fire on April 22 in the 16800 block of East 20th Court. The homeowner was treated for minor smoke inhalation. An investigation determined that some rags used to stain some benches were placed in a pile and spontaneously combusted. Damage was estimated at $20,000.