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Space heaters blamed

Sat., April 23, 2011

Spokane Valley Fire Department crews were kept busy with brush fires, vehicle accidents, a broken gas line and fires caused by space heaters the week of April 14-20.

A woman called for help at 10:35 a.m. on Monday to report a fire in her basement laundry room in the 11800 block of East 32nd Avenue. “She walked down and saw fire on that back wall,” said Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford. “They had a space heater plugged into an extension cord, which failed at the outlet.

“Space heaters are called that for a reason. They need space, and they’re not intended to plug into extension cords.”

The amount of damage was estimated at $5,000.

A fire reported at 2:27 a.m. in 200 block of North Idaho Road on April 14 also was caused by a space heater. The homeowner had been having a problem with water leaking into his home and was using a space heater to dry out a room used for storage.

“It was too close to combustibles and ended up catching items in that room on fire,” Clifford said. Damage was estimated at $75,000 to $80,000.

A homeowner smoking on his back deck in the 1600 block of South Bolivar Road on April 16 tossed a cigarette butt onto his hot tub cover, which caught on fire, Clifford said. “It was extinguished rather quickly and didn’t cause a whole lot of damage,” he said.

In an unusual call for this time of year crews were called out after several small “spot” fires were reported along Highway 27 on Tuesday. Some of the fires were in Fire District 8, which also responded. The two fires that Valley Fire crews put out were 50 by 100 feet and 15 by 15 feet in size, Clifford said. The cause is unknown.

“Either a car was putting off sparks or someone was lighting fireworks in a vehicle,” he said. “If it was dry outside, we would have had some issues.”

Firefighters also responded to a natural gas line break in the 900 block of South Mariam the afternoon of Wednesday. “It sounds like a contractor punctured a 2-inch line,” Clifford said.

There were 10 vehicle accidents during the week that sent five people to the hospital. Crews also responded to 165 EMS calls.

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