October 23, 2010 in Washington Voices

Illegal yard debris fires top week of calls

Spokane County residents are not allowed to burn leaves
By The Spokesman-Review
 

When the leaves start to drop, the number of yard debris fires seem to go up.

Spokane Valley firefighters responded to a few yard debris fires the week of Oct. 14-20. “People are doing a lot of burning,” said Bill Clifford, assistant fire marshal. The problem, however, is that burning leaves and yard debris is not allowed in Spokane County.

Other fires during the week were minor issues related to burnt food and electrical issues. Someone called just after 8 a.m. in the 9800 block of East Sixth Avenue on Oct. 20 to report that several young boys appeared to be trying to start a fire. No one was around when firefighters arrived. “Obviously they were doing something they weren’t supposed to be doing,” Clifford said.

There was an engine fire caused by someone dumping oil on a hot intake manifold, which ignited the oil. There were three hazardous materials calls, including a quart of oil in the middle of the road that was repeatedly run over, a natural gas odor and a homeowner who dug up his own gas line. Residents are urged to call 811 or (800) 424-5555 two days before they dig so everything is marked before any shovel hits the dirt.

A man who called firefighters twice the week before because his wheelchair was stuck called them twice this week as well. “I think one of them was he couldn’t get over the threshold into the house,” Clifford said. “I think the other one was he didn’t have enough power in his wheelchair battery to get up the ramp into his house.”

The man is being referred to the department’s Care Team, which visits residents who have repeatedly called the fire department for issues that might be preventable. The team works to put residents into contact with whatever assistance they might need to reduce the number of times the department is called out.

Firefighters were also called to help a homeowner who closed her garage door before realizing that the house was locked and she could not get in. “We were able to get in through a bathroom window,” Clifford said.


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