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Access slows firefighter response at apartment blaze

Thu., Nov. 4, 2010, midnight

It took 28 firefighters and extra work to lay a hose line by hand before firefighters could stop a dangerous fire that started in an apartment garage and nearly spread to adjacent residences late Tuesday.

Spokane firefighters said that access along the garage and between apartment structures slowed their response and nearly resulted in the dwelling units catching fire at the Indian Canyon Apartments, 1302 S. Westcliff Place.

They said the design problem is common in apartment complexes in Spokane.

The fire was reported at 10:12 p.m. and apparently began in a car that had just pulled into the five-stall garage in southwest Spokane.

Flames and radiant heat started to melt and burn the adjacent apartment building about 15 feet away before a water supply from a hydrant could reach the main pumping fire engine.

Extra companies were dispatched to assist, said Battalion Chief Craig Cornelius in a news release.

“Heavy fire development, building proximity and access issues required a difficult water supply ‘hand lay’ to Engine 4,” he said.

Cornelius said that “narrow access driveways and parked vehicles made it difficult for responding fire apparatus to maneuver inside the complex. This is a recurring challenge that the Fire Department has to deal with when responding to fires in many of the apartments within the city.”

No firefighters were hurt. The fire was under investigation. Damage to the garage and vehicles was estimated at $120,000.

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